RELEASE: Gottheimer, Bilirakis Lead Bipartisan Letter Urging Secretary Blinken to Address President Erdoğan’s Pro-Hamas, Anti-Israel Foreign Policy

Highlights Turkish leader’s repeated support of Hamas terrorists who perpetrated the October 7 attack on Israel

Jul 09, 2024
Press

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) led a bipartisan letter signed by twenty-eight Members of Congress to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, urging the State Department to address Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hostility toward Israel and continued support of Hamas terrorists. The letter is supported by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and FDD Action.

The signatory list of twenty-eight bipartisan Members of Congress includes Reps. Gottheimer (NJ-5), Bilirakis (FL-12), Auchincloss (MA-4), Bacon (NE-2), Cohen (TN-9), Costa (CA-21), Davis (NC-5), D’Esposito (NY-4), Espaillat (NY-13), LaLota (NY-1), Landsman (OH-1), Lee (NV-3), Malliotakis (NY-11), Manning (NC-6), Meng (NY-6), Moskowitz (FL-23), Norcross (NJ-1), Pallone (NJ-6), Pappas (NH-1), Sarbanes (MD-3), Schneider (IL-10), Self (TX-3), Soto (FL-9), Stevens (MI-11), Suozzi (NY-3), Titus (NV-1), Trone (MD-6), and Wasserman Schultz (FL-25).

“We are writing to address our serious concerns with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s escalating hostility and inflammatory rhetoric toward Israel. While allies can and often do disagree on key policy questions, Turkey’s conduct toward Israel is extremely troublesome and undermines our global fight for freedom and democracy. With democracy under assault around the world, we must protect our allies that are on the frontline battling these evil, authoritarian forces,” wrote Congressman Gottheimer (NJ-5), Congressman Bilirakis (FL-12), and twenty-six bipartisan Members of Congress in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The twenty-eight members continued, “The Turkish government’s professed solidarity with Hamas and its actions against one of America’s key democratic allies in the Middle East demands attention. If this trend persists, the United States may need to reassess its partnership with Turkey. Erdoğan’s promotion of harmful, anti-democratic policies and his glorification of Hamas strain the relationship between the United States and Turkey. Maintaining NATO unity is crucial, but Erdoğan’s recent actions and statements regarding Israel simply cannot be ignored.”

“FDD Action supports the bipartisan congressional letter to the State Department urging the Biden administration take prompt action to condemn Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his overt support of the terror group Hamas. Erdogan has routinely supported Hamas and its leadership, allowing for Turkish territory to be used to finance and plan terror plots against Israel,” said FDD Action. “It is unacceptable that Turkey, a NATO member and ally of the United States, routinely invites designated terrorists to its country while continuing to promote Hamas as a legitimate organization on the international stage. Erdogan should be roundly condemned for these actions and appropriate measures should be taken by the United States to hold Turkey accountable for serving as a hub for terrorism.”

“American Jewish Committee (AJC) remains deeply concerned about President Tayyip Erdoğan’s antagonism and inflammatory rhetoric towards Israel, especially in the aftermath of Hamas’ brutal attack on October 7th. President Erdoğan’s persistent endorsement of Hamas — a terror organization currently holding 120 souls hostage, including eight Americans — emboldens their actions and undermines our shared security interests as members of the NATO Alliance,” Julie Fishman Rayman, Managing Director of Policy and Political Affairs, AJC. “We applaud Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) for making clear that this cannot be overlooked.”

Full text of the letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken can be found here and below:

July 9, 2024

The Honorable Antony Blinken                             

Secretary

Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Blinken:

We are writing to address our serious concerns with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s escalating hostility and inflammatory rhetoric toward Israel. While allies can and often do disagree on key policy questions, Turkey’s conduct toward Israel is extremely troublesome and undermines our global fight for freedom and democracy. With democracy under assault around the world, we must protect our allies that are on the frontline battling these evil, authoritarian forces.

Since Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attacks against Israel, Erdoğan has not been shy about his support for Hamas, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization. Shortly after the attacks, Erdoğan said that Hamas “is not a terrorist organization…but a liberation group, mujahideen’ waging a battle to protect its lands and its people.” On October 28, 2023, a mere three weeks after Hamas brutally murdered, raped, decapitated, and kidnapped over 1,200 individuals, including Americans, Erdoğan spoke at a pro-Hamas rally at which he called Israel’s self- defensive response to the Hamas atrocities a “massacre.” On November 15, 2023, Erdoğan referred to Israel as a “terrorist state.”

President Erdogan has long maintained relations with Hamas, openly expressing support for its mission and movement. For over a decade Turkey has housed Hamas offices in Istanbul, allowing Erdoğan to meet with senior Hamas officials, including Ismail Haniyeh. In 2018, Erdoğan underscored his stance on Hamas, portraying it as a resistance movement to “defend the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power” rather than a terrorist organization. Seven months after Hamas’s barbaric, heinous terrorist attack against Israel, Erdoğan said that he still does not consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization, but “as people who are fighting to protect their land and their people.” Erdoğan has even called for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to reconcile their differences and unite, asserting that “the strongest response to Israel and the path to victory lie in unity and integrity.”

The Turkish strongman’s identification with the West’s adversaries is not limited to his embrace of Hamas. Erdoğan has shown a clear preference for aligning with authoritarian dictators who consolidate power rather than advocating for freedom and democracy. While the vast majority of his NATO allies have supported Ukraine in response to Putin’s unprovoked invasion, Turkey has refrained from imposing sanctions on Russia. Turkey maintains open trade relations with Russia, while ceasing all trade with Israel. Rejecting alliance norms, Erdoğan equivocates between authoritarian and democratic leaders, claiming he trusts “Russia and the West equally.” Erdoğan has rebuked Western nations for supporting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, while he continues to chip away at Turkey’s democratic institutions and judicial independence.

The Turkish government’s professed solidarity with Hamas and its actions against one of America’s key democratic allies in the Middle East demands attention. If this trend persists, the United States may need to reassess its partnership with Turkey. Erdoğan’s promotion of harmful, anti-democratic policies and his glorification of Hamas strain the relationship between the United States and Turkey. Maintaining NATO unity is crucial, but Erdoğan’s recent actions and statements regarding Israel simply cannot be ignored.

We urge the Administration to make clear to President Erdoğan that his continued support for the terrorist regime responsible for the October 7 massacre who continue to hold more than 100 hostages, including eight Americans – is offensive to the United States, and unless withdrawn, will likely have a negative effect on the relationship between our countries.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Members of Congress

###

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