President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed commitment to a lasting peace for Gaza as he answered reporters’ questions and said they were working on a new road map to that extent, while underlining Türkiye was ready for the reconstruction of the Palestinian city largely demolished by Israel.
Speaking to reporters as he returned from Qatar, where he attended a summit where the Palestine-Israel conflict was discussed, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Türkiye was committed to pursuing peace and they were charting a new road map for new strategies. Erdoğan said their focus was shedding light on the challenges in Gaza, besieged by Israel, the plight of Palestine and finding ways for a sustainable and enduring peace.
Türkiye was the first country to propose a guarantorship model to solve the conflict, something Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan voiced. The president himself suggested the convention of a peace conference for a permanent solution. Qatar, which played a proactive role in ensuring a humanitarian pause and exchange of prisoners between the two sides, is among the major allies of Türkiye. “We share Qatar’s viewpoint on the issue and are in touch with them. Together, we will manage this process with the ultimate goal of peace and take steps together. This is not a process that will run itself. It is a fact that Gaza was leveled with Israel’s merciless attacks. Our priorities are maintaining truce and evacuation of injured people from Gaza,” Erdoğan said, noting that Türkiye already evacuated some injured Gazans and cancer patients.
He pointed out the issue of rebuilding Gaza. “We will do what is necessary on this issue with all the resources we have. Qatar is on the same course as us on this issue. Türkiye is ready for guarantorship and hosting a (peace) conference, as long as there is will for peace,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan underlined that peace and justice are two things that should be sustained “to prevent the world from succumbing into a major catastrophe.” “We tell this to those turning a blind eye to the atrocities. This is the recipe to save humankind’s dignity. We will not be daunted; we will not give up on our efforts to tell the truth. We cannot afford to give up trying. We will work for peace. We drafted new road maps and we will present our solutions to end the oppression in Gaza, to stop the yearslong crises Palestinians have suffered from and for a permanent peace,” he stated.
The president pointed out the work of top diplomats from seven countries, including Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, who embarked on globe-trotting diplomacy to seek support to stop Israel’s atrocities. “This group represents one voice on Palestine. In every meeting, they conveyed a united message, and we see a change in discourse regarding the conflict after their efforts. The Islamic world is now one voice and is talking about a solution. It is no longer just about what would happen in Gaza next; rather, it is now a two-state solution being discussed. Countries that initially supported Israel are seeing the facts and changing their course. Israel is aware that it is losing Europe,” he said.
The president lamented that it was the support of Western countries, particularly the United States, for Israel that paved the way for the “current situation in the region.” “Unlimited financial support and supplies of weapons brought Israel to this stage as a spoiled child of the West. How long will it continue? The current situation will only stoke negative views of Israel in countries which have relations with Israel,” he said. Erdoğan expressed concerns over a “global system whose actions are defined based on the identity of the perpetrators,” he said. “You see how French President Macron changed his rhetoric after his initial support for Israel. Many Western countries also stopped issuing statements supportive of Israel.”
He reiterated his criticism of the Netanyahu government and earlier remarks that Netanyahu was a “goner.” “He is (politically) bankrupt now. Netanyahu and his cadres’ atrocities were ignored by the West, but views are changing. I don’t think it will take much time before he goes bankrupt. Before the Gaza attacks, he was facing a trial. Currently, the Israeli judiciary, which collaborates with the occupational forces of Israel, averts issuing a verdict against him. Still, I believe they are on the eve of a ruling,” he said, referring to the Israeli premier’s corruption trial.
Erdoğan said Türkiye also turned to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for an international trial of Netanyahu and his accomplices. “We brought war crimes in Gaza to the spotlight and we will follow up on developments on that front. It is not only Türkiye but other countries and other people applying to the court for punishment of Israel (for crimes against humanity). We see a concrete stand on that matter. We also see an increasing number of people express solidarity with Palestinians. Voices are rising everywhere: on London streets, outside the White House, in Paris, Belgium, the Netherlands and elsewhere. They won’t end until the oppression of Palestinians is over and the criminals are held accountable for what they’ve done,” he said. The president stressed that even in Israel, groups wanted Netanyahu to be held accountable for his war crimes, but it would set an example for “other oppressors” if he is punished by an international court.
In recent remarks by an Israeli prime ministry adviser for the creation of a security buffer zone in Gaza. “It is disrespectful to Palestinians,” Erdoğan, who advocates the return of occupied territories to Palestinians, said. Reuters reported last week that Israel had conveyed plans for the buffer zone to several Arab states and Türkiye.
Israel will seek a “security envelope” with special zones and arrangements that will prevent Hamas from being positioned on its border after the war in Gaza is over, adviser Mark Regev told reporters earlier. Israel has suggested in the past it was considering a buffer zone inside Gaza, but the sources who spoke with Reuters said it was now presenting them to Arab states as part of its future security plans for Gaza. “That is not Israel taking territory from Gaza,” said Regev. “On the contrary, that is creating security zones where you have a special situation on the ground which limits the ability of people to enter Israel to kill our people. It’s common sense,” he argued.
Erdoğan said it is not something worth discussing. “Israel’s plan to occupy Palestinian lands that began in 1947 led Palestinians to this situation where their lands became smaller over the years. Now, Israel wants what little is left. It is impossible to accept this. These are Palestinian lands. It is up to the Palestinian people to decide who will rule these lands. Israel had better accept the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and return the lands it occupied. They should evict those terrorists they define as ‘settlers’ and should consider a peaceful future with Palestinians. In the end, I believe Palestinians will win this cause,” Erdoğan said.
On Israel’s plans to hunt down members of Hamas in Türkiye, as the director of Shin Bet recently voiced according to the media outlets, Erdoğan issued a warning to Israel. “They don’t know the Turks, they don’t know Türkiye, they will pay a heavy price if they try it,” he warned reporters. “They won’t be able to straighten up once they try to take this step. Those plotting such a thing should know that there will be very serious consequences. The world knows how Türkiye advanced in intelligence and security. They should bear in mind that Türkiye is not a state born yesterday,” he further warned.
The president also touched upon the issue of purchasing Eurofighter Typhoon jets from Europe. He said the United Kingdom responded positively but had “problems” with Germany. “We have other alternatives anyway,” he added. Earlier, Türkiye was planning to buy F-16s from the U.S. but faced opposition from U.S. Congress.
The U.S. Congress should take steps on selling F-16s and upgrade kits simultaneously with Türkiye so all sides can take the remaining steps needed at the same time, Erdoğan said as reporters asked about whether the issue was linked to Türkiye’s approval of Sweden’s NATO accession.
“If the U.S. has a Congress, we also have our Parliament. There’s nothing to say (on Sweden’s NATO bid) until a final decision comes from our Parliament,” Erdoğan told journalists.
Saying that he fulfilled his job by sending Sweden’s NATO protocol to the Turkish Parliament in October, Erdoğan added that he expects something from his counterparts. “Simultaneously, pass this (F-16 sale) through your Congress on this issue and let’s take these steps together at the same time.”
Türkiye is seeking to purchase from the U.S. the latest model F-16 Block 70 aircraft, as well as 79 modernization kits to upgrade its remaining F-16s to Block 70 level.