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Turkish minister says easing of trade ban on Israel out of the question

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Turkish Trade Minister Ömer Bolat has refuted claims by an Israeli official about Turkey’s easing of a recently imposed trade ban on Israel due to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, describing the claims as “fictional.”

Turkey announced last week that it was suspending all trade with Israel until it allows aid to enter Gaza unhindered during its offensive against Hamas militants in the territory.

“Exports and imports to and from Israel have been suspended,” the trade ministry said in a statement, adding: “Turkey will apply these new measures … until the Israeli government authorizes an uninterrupted flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza.”

Bolat issued a statement on X on Thursday, responding to a claim made by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz earlier in the day.

Katz claimed in his tweet that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had withdrawn and cancelled many of the trade restrictions imposed on Israel while he called on Israel to take a lesson from the conflict with Turkey and create alternatives for its trade in order to not give in to the threats of a “dictator.”

Bolat described Katz’s statements as “absolutely fictional and having nothing to do with reality.” He said the Turkish government stands behind its decision regarding the trade ban with Israel.

“This decision remains in place. Our decision to stop trade with Israel is in effect until our conditions for the halt of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, ensuring a permanent ceasefire and uninterrupted delivery of humanitarian aid to our Palestinian brothers in Gaza are met,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a document seen by Reuters, the Trade Ministry outlined a three-month reprieve for companies with existing export deals to Israel.

Companies have three months to fulfill existing orders via third countries, a source from Turkish trade ministry said, according to Reuters, adding that relaxing Turkey’s ban on exports to Israel is “out of the question.”
The latest steps aims to protect Turkish traders, another source from the ministry said.

The Gaza Strip is suffering a humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s war against Hamas that has been raging since October 7, with the United Nations and aid agencies warning of impending famine.

The war started with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the death of roughly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and some 250 people taken hostage.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 34,700 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry, and has devastated the Gaza Strip.

Turkey is one of the most outspoken critics of Israel’s war on Gaza, accusing the Israeli government of committing “war crimes” and a “genocide” in the enclave.

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