Bipartisan group of lawmakers expresses ‘serious concerns’ about Erdoğan’s hostility toward Israel

Twenty-eight lawmakers said the U.S. might have to reevaluate its alliance with Turkey if it doesn’t change course

Burak Kara/Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to supporters at his party’s Istanbul mayoral candidate Murat Kurum's campaign rally on March 29, 2024 in Istanbul, Turkey.

A bipartisan group of 28 House members is voicing “serious concerns” about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his country’s “escalating hostility and inflammatory rhetoric” toward Israel, warning that the U.S. may have to recalibrate its relationship with its NATO ally if Ankara doesn’t change course.

The lawmakers wrote to Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Tuesday calling on 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who continue to hold more than 110 hostages, including eight Americans — is offensive to the United States, and unless withdrawn, will likely have a negative effect on the relationship between our countries.”

The lawmakers said that if Ankara does not change its posture toward Israel and Hamas, the U.S. “may need to reassess its partnership with Turkey.” 

Turkey and its leader have repeatedly expressed sympathy and support for Hamas, while condemning and attempting to punish Israel, including cutting off trade relations. The letter marks an escalation in public criticism of Turkey from Capitol Hill, after some of the same lawmakers raised concerns earlier this year about collapsing Israel-Turkey relations.

“Maintaining NATO unity is crucial, but Erdoğan’s recent actions and statements regarding Israel simply cannot be ignored,” the letter continues.

The letter describes Turkey’s approach toward Israel as “extremely troublesome” and detrimental to “our global fight for freedom and democracy.”

It blasts Erdoğan for having been open about “his support for Hamas” since Oct. 7, describing it as a “liberation group” and condemning Israel’s operations against the terrorist group. It condemns Turkey’s long-running relationship with Hamas, including hosting a Hamas office in Istanbul, and Erdoğan’s past meetings with and praise for Hamas as freedom fighters.

It also slams “the Turkish strongman’s identification” with other U.S. “adversaries,” including refusing to impose sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine while cutting trade ties with Israel and equivocating between Russia and Western nations. 

It further accuses him of “chip[ping] away at Turkey’s democratic institutions and judicial independence.”

The letter was led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), joined by Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Jim Costa (D-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Grace Meng (D-NY), Don Bacon (R-NE), Don Davis (D-NC), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Keith Self (R-TX), Susie Lee (D-NV), Nick LaLota (R-NY), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Darren Soto (D-FL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Greg Landsman (D-OH), David Trone (D-MD), Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).

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