05/10/2020

Israeli Defense Minister Gantz calls out Turkey and Iran for destabilizing region but fails to address Israeli support for Azerbaijan in war against Armenia

TEL AVIV — Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz accused both Turkey and Iran of supporting Palestinian factions hostile to Israel, most notably Hamas, and opposing the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Both Turkey and Iran denounced the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

Gantz claimed that Turkey and Iran were both destabilizing the region and actively working against peacemaking efforts. He called for international pressure to be put on Turkey to change its aggressive and expansionist behavior, especially from Turkey’s NATO allies.

On 1 October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened the Turkish parliament’s legislative session with a speech that included Turkish claims to Jerusalem, stating that, “In this city, which we had to leave in tears during the First World War, it is still possible to come across traces of the Ottoman resistance. So Jerusalem is our city, a city from us.”

The Ottoman Empire ruled Jerusalem for four centuries, from 1517 to 1917.

Gantz’s remarks are the first of its kind against Turkey. The two countries have maintained relatively positive trade and diplomatic relations over the years, but relations have begun to sour as of late.

Gantz’s comments also failed to address Israel’s role in regional destabilization.

Israel has supplied Azerbaijan, currently engaged in an intense and ugly war with Armenia which has seen both sides target civilian areas, with drones, loitering munitions, and cluster munitions.

Israel has continued to resupply Azerbaijani weapon stocks throughout the conflict. The Armenian President and Ambassador to Israel have called for Israel to stop the arms shipments.

Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, has also supplied drones, weapons, and even Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan. It is even suspected that Turkish military personal are on the ground in Azerbaijan.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades long dispute over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. From 1988 to 1994, a war was fought between the majority ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan. By the wars end, Armenian was in full control of the territory with few exceptions, including areas of Azerbaijan outside Nagorno-Karabakh connecting the enclave with Armenia.

Tensions between the two sides even predate the 1988 conflict, with violence occurring between them while they were both republics under Soviet rule.

In July of this year, clashes erupted after an Azerbaijani patrol attempted to cross the border and were met with fire from Armenian forces. Artillery and drone strikes were exchanged between the two sides for days, resulting in over a dozen casualties.

The latest hostilities began in late September as Azerbaijan, bolstered by Turkish support and Syrian mercenaries, launched an all-out offensive against the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh. Hundreds have been killed on both sides of the conflict in a week of intense fighting.