Katz to UAE official: Erdogan hates Israel, relatives benefit from trade

“I said that in this region there are ‘frenemies,’ and that it is possible to disagree on one thing, but cooperate on another.,” Katz said.

August 7, 2019 03:56
2 minute read.
Tayyip Erdogan delivers speech during protest against 2018 killings of Palestinian protesters

TURKISH PRESIDENT Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a protest against the recent killings of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza-Israel border and the US embassy move to Jerusalem, in Istanbul, Turkey on May 18.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who last month said he is against anyone “who is on the side of Israel,” may have relatives benefiting financially from trade with the Jewish state, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Monday.

Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Katz spoke briefly on camera about meetings he had with a senior UAE official in June while attending a UN meeting in Abu Dhabi.

Katz related that when talking about the need for closer cooperation between Israel and the Persian Gulf, he brought up the example of Erdogan as a case where it is still possible to do business with someone you disagree with.

“We don’t like him, nor does he like us – and they [in the Gulf] also don’t like him, because the Muslim Brotherhood, in its extreme version in Turkey and Qatar, threatens them no less than Iran,” Katz said.

There is clear hostility between Turkey and Israel, Katz said, “but the trade continues to grow, and I said that Erdogan – perhaps even some of his family is involved in bringing trucks to the Haifa Port, and then on to you [in the Gulf].”

Every day, ferries loaded in Turkey with trucks laden with Turkish goods land in Haifa, and then are driven to the Allenby Bridge, across Jordan and to the Persian Gulf countries. Since the Syrian civil war, this has become a key transport route for Turkish goods going to markets in Arab countries in the Gulf.

“I said that in this region, there are ‘frenemies,’ and that it is possible to disagree on one thing, but cooperate on another,” Katz said, adding that he suggested there is no reason why a similar situation cannot exist between Israel and the Persian Gulf states.

Katz listed normalizing relations with the Gulf countries as one of his top priorities for the Foreign Ministry, along with working to get countries to move embassies and diplomatic offices to Jerusalem and getting the ministry to do more to promote Israel’s economic interests.

In general, Katz said, “Israel does have relations with the Persian Gulf countries – diplomatic ties, security ties, business ties – there were and are things. My goal, with the full backing of the prime minister, is to work toward open normalization, to widen it and make it public and to reach diplomatic agreements with them” similar to the peace agreements Israel has with Jordan and Egypt.

In addition to going to Abu Dhabi in July, Katz – as transportation minister – went to Oman in November to attend a conference there, and last month met publicly in Washington with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled al-Ahmad Al Khalifa.

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