Turkish reconciliation with Israel will not change Ankara’s relationship with Palestine, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Tuesday.
“This deal does not mean that Ankara will change its policy on Palestine,” he said during a book fair in the Turkish capital Ankara, Anadolu Agency reported.
“Our stance on the Palestinian issue, its independence, the two-state solution and the improvement of living conditions for people in Gaza and the end of occupation is obvious. It has not changed and will not change.”
In a statement released after the official announcement of the agreement, Hamas, the de-facto rulers of the besieged Gaza Strip, expressed their “deep appreciation” and “gratitude” to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for his support for the Palestinian people.
The statement added that Hamas expected Turkey to continue exerting pressure on Israel to end its stringent blockade of the Gaza Strip completely, and stop its assaults on the Palestinian people, land, and holy places.
The movement said that Turkey’s efforts in negotiating the agreement, which re-established diplomatic normalization between Israel and Turkey, was “accordant with a long history of Turkish support and solidarity with Palestinians.”
Hamas in their statement “hailed the martyred and wounded activists on board the Mavi Marmara as heroes who sacrificed their lives and blood for Palestine.”
In a press conference Monday following the finalization of the deal, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim shocked Palestinian and international analysts by claiming that deal “largely lifted” Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip.
While Israel agreed to allow Turkey to begin delivering international aid to the besieged coastal enclave and built infrastructural projects, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed that Israel is to maintain the near-decade long blockade that has plunged the vast majority of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents into crippling poverty.
The movement’s approval of the rapprochement represented a rare moment of consensus between Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and Israeli leadership.
On Tuesday, Turkey and Israel signed an agreement to resume diplomatic relations six years after the Mavi Marmara incident that saw the two states break off ties.
Ten Turkish activists were killed in May 2010 when Israeli commandos stormed the aid ship as it attempted to deliver supplies to Gaza in breach of Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian enclave.
Under the reconciliation deal, Turkey will supply aid to Gaza and initiate projects to restore the area’s battered infrastructure.
One aid ship is due to set off for Gaza on Friday and Kalin signaled that more would follow. He added that a team of technicians would arrive in Gaza this week to start work on the electricity and water networks.
“The deal paves the way for the necessary steps to be taken quickly to bring a sigh of relief to the people of Gaza,” Kalin said.
In further attempts to restore relations overseas, Kalin said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. Russia imposed a range of sanctions against Turkey following the downing of a Russian fighter jet that violated the Turkish airspace last November.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki meanwhile endorsed the agreement but insisted that all terms directly relating the Palestinian people involve the Palestinian government.
The Gaza Strip has suffered under an Israeli military blockade since 2007 when Hamas was elected to rule the territory.
Residents of Gaza suffer from high unemployment and poverty rates, as well as the consequences of three devastating wars with Israel since 2008.
The UN has warned that unless current trends were altered, the Gaza Strip could become uninhabitable for residents in fewer than five years. “The social, health and security-related ramifications of the high population density and overcrowding are among the factors that may render Gaza unlivable by 2020,” the UN’s development agency said last year.