(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not decreased his hostility to Israel and continues to serve as a patron to Hamas and other terrorist groups despite having signed a reconciliation deal with Israel, former Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar charged on Tuesday.
Sa'ar's comments to Army Radio came a week after Israel and Turkey essentially resumed full diplomatic ties by mutually naming new ambassadors and a day after Erdogan gave an interview to Israel's Channel 2 in which he refused to back down from comparisons of Israel's actions in Gaza to those of the Nazis.
"Erdogan is the same Erdogan, and the interview yesterday was important because it showed those who believe we are truly turning a new page, as a result of the deal agreed to five months ago, that this is an illusion," Sa'ar said.
Sa'ar, a former Likud ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is now seen as a potential challenger to his rule
, said that while rehabilitating ties with Turkey is important for Israel, it should not have been done at any cost. The former minister attacked Israel's decision to agree to pay compensation to the families of Turkish flotilla activists killed in clashes with IDF naval commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara
vessel in May 2010.
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Erdogan was unrepentant about the flotilla in Monday's interview, rejecting as "lies" claims, apparently supported by video footage, that the IDF soldiers were attacked by the Turkish activists and acted in self defense.
Sa'ar said that Israel's paying compensation was essentially an admittance of guilt, fueling Erdogan's comments. "We paid them compensation. Why wouldn't he say they didn't attack us, we gave him the best evidence there is."
He referred to the decision to pay compensation to the families of those who attacked IDF soldiers as "one of the most humiliating actions that a sovereign state can carry out."
Sa'ar said that Turkey was not fulfilling its end of the reconciliation agreement. The former minister said that Turkey was still hosting Hamas's military wing within its territory, as well as serving as a patron to other terror groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria.
In addition, Sa'ar said that despite its agreement to drop all legal claims against IDF officers and officials involved in the Marmara
raid, such lawsuits were still outstanding.
"Relations with Turkey are important, but he who signs a deal with these conditions, certainly isn't serving our interests," Sa'ar charged.
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