11:04 GMT26 October 2020
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    Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has cast doubt on relevance of the 2016 reconciliation agreement with Turkey amid a fierce row between Benjamin Netanyahu and Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Tel Aviv’s actions against Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

    Speaking with Army Radio, Gilad Erdan suggested that Israel opposed “the hostility and anti-Semitism of Erdogan,” adding that he “continued to support Hamas,” reiterating the prime minister’s remark, “It’s odd for a country such as Turkey, that is massacring the Kurds and occupying northern Cyprus, to be accepted as a legitimate nation by the West.”

    READ MORE: Arab League to Hold Emergency Meeting Over IDF Sniper Killings in Gaza

    In 1974, Turkey invaded northern Cyprus to foil a coup in the country supported by the Greek military and later occupied parts of the territory, becoming the only nation to have recognized the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as an independent state in 1984.

    In January 2018, Turkey kicked off an offensive in Syria’s Afrin in a bid to “clear” the area of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is viewed by Ankara as a terrorist group, allegedly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Operation Olive Branch was launched in response to the US’ decision to create a 30,000-strong border security force in Syria largely composed of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey believes is affiliated with the YPG and PKK.

    Peace Agreement

    Erdan elaborated that he was not satisfied with the 2016 deal with Turkey that helped put an end to years of diplomatic crisis between the two nations. According to the minister, “there were many considerations for and against,” but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convinced him to vote positively.

    “Looking back, maybe the accord should not have been approved,” he said, although added that Israel “did not have the luxury of rejecting a compromise deal with one of the Middle East’s greatest powers.”

    Relations between Israel and Turkey were marred in 2010 by an Israeli naval raid on the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara aid ship attempting to breach the blockade of the Gaza Strip. In the incident, Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turkish activists who allegedly attacked them on board the ship.

    Then-Prime Minister Erdogan harshly criticized the raid as a “bloody massacre” and “state terrorism,” demanding Israel apologize, pay compensation to the families of those deceased and lift the Gaza blockade.

    READ MORE: Netanyahu, Erdogan Exchange Barbs Amid Ongoing Protests in Gaza

    In 2013, Netanyahu voiced regret over the deadly incident to Erdogan; in September 2016, Israel paid $20 million in compensation to the families of the victims as part of the agreement reached in August, which contributed to the normalization of bilateral relations after a six-year-long diplomatic crisis.

    Israel Sees No Point in Cooperating With "Hostile" UN

    "There is not a single reason to cooperate with the United Nations. The UN is a hostile structure … The UN has turned into the Foreign Ministry of the Hamas terrorist organization," Erdan said in an interview with the Army Radio (Galei Tzahal) when asked whether Israel should cooperate with the organization if the latter launches an investigation.

    Even if there were some breaches on the Israeli part, Tel Aviv has its independent competent agencies capable of conducting an investigation on their own, the minister stressed.

    READ MORE: France Calls on Israel to Exercise Restraint After Palestinian Killings

    Erdan was commenting on Friday's UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' call for an independent investigation into the deaths of Palestinians during a recent mass protest in the Gaza Strip. The UN chief’s political affairs aide, Taye-Brook Zerihoun, said that Israel should use lethal force only as a last resort.

    Mass Protests of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip

    The UN initiative is connected with a mass protest camp along the border with Israel launched by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on April 30. During the first day of protests, 15 demonstrators were killed and over 1,500 more injured. A number of foreign activists have accused Israel of disproportionate use of force against protesters and called for a probe. At the same time, the Israeli side claimed that it had responded to violent actions of the Palestinians.

    READ MORE: Israel Rejects Calls by EU, UN for Palestine Violence Investigation

    According to the Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Kidra, a Palestinian has died from the injuries sustained in clashes on the Israeli-Gaza border on April 2, thereby raising the death toll to 16.

    "A Palestinian, 29 has died as a result as a result of the wound that he received on Friday during clashes with the Israeli army in the east of the city of Khan Yunis," the statement said.

    The Palestinian protest dubbed "The Great Return March" that kicked off on Friday is expected to end on May 15, when Palestinians will commemorate the Nakba (disaster in Arabic), ethnic cleansing and forced relocation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians after Israel announced its independence in 1948.

    Hamas, listed as a terrorist organization in many countries, including the United States and Israel, gained control of the Gaza Strip following the 2007 election. The movement is one of the organizers of the ongoing protests.

    deaths, investigation, mass protests, UN, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Gaza Strip, Palestine, Israel
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