They clearly have a 'thing' for land: Israeli purchases of Turkish land skyrocketing
Despite the harsh criticism against Israel, the government did not attempt to block big land sales to Israelis.
The amount of land purchased by Israeli nationals in Turkey has skyrocketed over the past two years following legislation in 2012 which allowed the sale of land to foreigners, a development that contradicts Ankara's tough rhetoric against the Israeli government.
The Turkish government has used harsh diplomatic language against the Middle Eastern country, with then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling Israel “a terrorist state” back in July. “They [Israel] are creating a wave of terror with what they are doing now,” Erdoğan told a televised CNN International program in July following Israel's deadly military offensive on Gaza. The statements underlined that the diplomatic tension between Turkey and Israel which hit a historic high in 2010 was far from over.
Latest figures of land sales to Israeli nationals, however, show that the harsh diplomatic language had little impact on discouraging Israelis from increasing their property investments. Between 1923 and 2012, Israeli nationals purchased 12,087 square meters of land inside Turkey. This figure jumped to 71,270 square meters between May and Sept. 10, 2014, government data reveal.
Israelis preferred the southeastern province of Gaziantep over the past two years more than other Turkish cities, with 54,094 square meters of land in Gaziantep. The figures were released by the Ministry of Urban Development following a parliamentary question submitted by opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Yusuf Halaçoğlu.
In May 2012, Parliament passed a bill concerning the sale of land to foreigners that eliminated the reciprocity requirement and increased the limit on the size of land able to be bought by foreigners from 2.5 hectares to 30 hectares in total. This meant to allow foreigners to purchase property in Turkey, even if Turks do not enjoy the same right in those same foreign countries.
Despite the harsh criticism against Israel, the government did not attempt to block big land sales to Israelis, Halaçoğlu argued in a statement in Ankara on Friday. The 2012 law might have opened the door to foreign real estate investment in Turkey, but not to all. Citizens of countries neighboring Turkey, including Greece, Armenia, Bulgaria, Syria and Iran, are limited or entirely barred from purchasing property in the country -- a hold-over from regulations in decades past, which limited foreign property ownership on the grounds of national security.
The government could have opted to apply the same procedures on Israeli citizens but did not, Halaçoğlu asserted. He said the government was ready to sell land that equals two times the size of Turkey's largest city -- in terms of square measure -- Konya. “Where is the national interest here?” he asked.
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