Israel’s right to exist was debated in the Turkish Parliament, where the Islamist-nationalist bloc led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his political associates have the controlling majority.
According to minutes obtained by Nordic Monitor of a recently held hearing in a subcommittee, an expert invited by parliament questioned Israel’s right to exist, calling it a state without any legal basis and certainly an illegitimate one.
“In fact, I think Israel’s [right to] existence should be questioned, and I discuss it in my book,” said Berdal Aral, a professor at Istanbul’s Medeniyet University, as he started his testimony, claiming that Israel is neither a legitimate state nor a state that was established lawfully in a legal sense. He said Israel’s existence as a state can be legally challenged.
“My view, frankly, is that Israel is not a normal state and that it’s very problematic, a state whose existence can be legally questioned,” he told lawmakers, who did not challenge his comments.
Describing Israel as a racist, expansionist and aggressor state, Aral said: “When left on their own, Israelis are a community that can’t coexist. They have nothing [good] in common, and the only thing they do have in common is hatred, vengeance and aggression towards Arabs and others.”
He even entertained a conspiracy claiming that Israel has an ambition to occupy territories from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in Turkey, Iraq and Syria. The conspiracy is widely popular among Islamist, nationalist and leftist circles in Turkey.
Part of the transcript from the committee hearing that shows how Israel’s right to exist was questioned:Hearing_on_Israel_Turkish_Parliament
Aral further repeated claims like how Jews are very influential in the West, especially in the financial sphere, media outlets and academic institutions and alleged that many academics were expelled from Western universities because they opposed Zionism. Muslim resistance fighters were quickly labeled in the Western media as terrorists, he said, adding that this is not only confined to fighters in Palestine but also in Chechnya, Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Aral also accused Israel of being behind a military coup in Egypt in 2013 and of propping up the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. He called for a total embargo on Israel by the international community, which would cover everything from trade, economy and finance to the military.
The expert’s testimony on Israel was delivered at a hearing chaired by former deputy prime minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu, now chairman of Human Rights Committee. Çavuşoğlu and his associates helped establish a new subcommittee in parliament to specifically look into allegations of human rights violations by Israel in the Palestinian territories. The committee was established in June 2021 and has had three hearings on Israel so far.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also endorsed the hearings, sending an expert from its think tank, the Strategic Research Center (SAM). Ufuk Ulutaş, the president of SAM, appeared at a committee hearing on July 8, 2021, delivering a presentation on domestic Israeli politics.
Çavuşoğlu called the hearings historic and said a comprehensive report on Israel would be issued by parliament after his committee wrapped up its series of hearings. The official name of the committee is listed as “The Subcommittee on Investigation of Discrimination Policies, Violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law by Israel against the Palestinians as a Whole Including Those living in Occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Blockaded Gaza (Israil’in İşgal Altında Tuttuğu Doğu Kudüs, Batı Şeria Ve Abluka Altındaki Gazze’de Yaşayanlarla Bir Bütün Hâlinde Filistinlilere Uyguladığı Ayrımcılık Politikaları, İnsan Hakları Ve Uluslararası İnsancıl Hukuk İhlallerinin İncelenmesi Alt Komisyonu in Turkish).
A 2016 agreement between Turkey and Israel as part of efforts at rapprochement by the two countries was also questioned at the committee hearing, with Aral saying he was not happy about the deal that killed a criminal investigation into Israeli officials and that he wanted to see the continuation of the criminal case.
Part of the transcript from a Turkish Parliament committee hearing on Israel:Hearing_on_Israel_Turkish_Parliament2
Relations between Turkey and Israel were damaged after the killing of nine Turks and one Turkish-American during Israel’s raid in 2010 on the Mavi Marmara aid ship, which had attempted to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Turkey downgraded ties with the Jewish state by withdrawing its ambassador and expelling the Israeli ambassador from Turkey.
Turkish authorities sought the arrest of retired Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, retired Israeli Navy commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom, retired IDF Chief of Defense Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin and retired Israeli Air Force intelligence head Brig. Gen. Avishai Levi for their role in the deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara. A criminal case against a number of Israeli officials was launched for their role in the raid.
The relations between Turkey and Israel were restored in 2016 after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered an apology and a compensation agreement for the victims of the Mavi Marmara was signed. A new Israeli ambassador was appointed to Turkey in November 2016 but was expelled in May 2018 after the US recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.