Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
With the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry silent on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threat to halt normalization with Israel as a result of its support of Kurdish independence, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid stepped into the void on Wednesday and said the government should make clear it will not be threatened.
“The government should make clear to Mr. Erdogan that we do not conduct our foreign policy according to threats and demands,” he said.
“Israel should stand by the Kurdish people, it is morally and strategically the right thing to do,” Lapid added. “We remember what it is to fight for your homeland and we shouldn’t allow the Kurds to stand alone in the face of threats from Turkey and Iran.”
The results of the referendum for an independent Kurdistan in Iraq that was held on Monday were announced on Wednesday, with an overwhelming 93% voting yes, despite threats of grave ramifications from Iran, Iraq and Turkey – which all have large Kurdish populations.
On Tuesday Erdogan threatened to halt steps being taken toward normalization with Israel if it does not end its support for an independent Kurdish state.
“If Israel does not reconsider its support for Kurdish independence, Turkey will not be able to take many steps we would have with Israel, too,” he said.
Israel and Turkey renewed full diplomatic relations at the end of last year, following a six-year hiatus in full ties because of the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident in which a protest flotilla tried to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip, leaving nine Turks dead.
Netanyahu was the only leader in the region to endorse the referendum. Last month, during a meeting in Jerusalem with a delegation of Republican congressmen, he expressed a “positive attitude” toward a Kurdish state in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, saying the Kurds are a “brave, pro-Western people who share our values.”
Erdogan said Turkey would initiate political, economic, commercial and security steps against the Kurdistan Regional Government in response to the referendum. Iraq has threatened a military response.
“A referendum was conducted in northern Iraq, and only supported by Israel,” Erdogan said.
“Who will recognize your independence, Israel?” the Turkish leader said.
“The world is not about Israel.”
Lapid tweeted in response to those comments on Tuesday that Erdogan’s threat to freeze ties with Israel were “empty.”
“The relations are hollow anyway,” Lapid said, “and we don’t take directives from him.”
The Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister Office’s silence on Erdogan’s comments fits in with Jerusalem’s long record of rarely responding to the Turkish leader’s periodic outbursts against Israel.
JTA contributed to this report.