Turkish Islamist party official fired for controversial anti-Israel tweet

Irem Aktas made the provocative tweet immediately after the attack.

March 19, 2016 16:25
3 minute read.

Istanbul blast

Istanbul blast


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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the Foreign Ministry to demand a condemnation by the Turkish Foreign Ministry of an incendiary tweet by a member of the ruling AK Party who wished that the Israelis wounded in Saturday’s Turkish terrorist attack would die.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said Israel was checking the veracity of the tweet from Irem Aktas,
identified as head of the party’s media relations and women’s outreach department, with the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The tweet has since been removed.. Turkish social media sources then reported that Aktas had been dismissed from her position.

If it was legitimate, Nachshon said it was a “shocking and ugly statement,” and that Israel would expect an apology and repudiation.

Another AK functionary, Hatice Yucel, posted a tweet saying that Aktas’s tweet “does not reflect the opinion of the AK Party.”

She said the party was taking steps to remove Aktas from her position.

Yucel condemned the attack and offered “condolences to those who lost their lives and wish the injured a speedy recovery.
The AKP, otherwise known as the Justice and Development Party, is an Islamist-leaning movement which swept into power under Erdogan’s leadership in 2002.

It has been the dominant force in Turkish politics, pulling the country toward a more religious orientation despite its secular, Kamalist character.

Erdogan and his party have been particularly vocal in their hostility toward Israel and their support for Hamas.

Relations between Turkey and Israel broke off following the Israeli commando raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla that sought to break through the blockade of the Palestinian coastal territory ruled by Islamist Hamas.

In recent months, however, there has been talk of a rapprochement between the two erstwhile strategic allies.

Last month, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported that a representative appointed by Turkey's Defense Ministry has been sent to Israel in order to procure Israeli-made weapons and aircraft equipment as a condition for the return to normalized relations between the two countries.

According to Al-Jarida, Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz sent a special envoy Tuesday to meet with Israel's security echelon in order to negotiate financial terms concerning weapons sales.

Israel in turn has demanded to know whether the weapons were intended to attack Kurdish rebels positioned on the Turkish-Syrian border, according to the report.

The Turkish government made clear that the weapons sales, including the purchasing of unmanned aerial vehicles, was part of a wider framework agreement in which the two countries would normalize relations, according to the Al-Jarida report.

Israel has yet to respond to the Turkish request, waiting to see if Ankara was still committed to honoring previous agreements to buy gas from the Jewish state. In turn, Turkey has yet to respond to Israeli inquiries concerning the use of UAV's against the Kurds.

In response to reports that Turkey and Israel were close to reaching an agreement in returning to normalized relations, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said earlier this week that it was difficult to proceed in negotiations between the nations if Turkey continues to support the terrorist organizations Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

"I am not sure if we can arrive to an agreement" if they continue funding these extremist organizations, Ya'alon said. "They must comply with the terms of our agreement so that we can overcome these obstacles," he added.

Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.

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