(September 17, 2018 / JNS) Amid shared concerns over Iran’s regional aggression among other interests, Israel and Turkey have been attempting to mend relations with one another despite their subtle differences, according to an Israeli media report on Monday.
Were the latest discussions to mark progress, both nations would return their respective ambassadors in early October, according to the daily Yediot Achronot.
Such a move would occur five months after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blamed Israel for its response to violent protests along the Gaza border, labeling the country as a “terrorist state” that commits “genocide.”
Turkey recalled its ambassador and kicked out Israeli ambassador Eitan Na’eh and his country’s consul in Istanbul. Israel retaliated by expelling Turkey’s consul-general in Jerusalem and summoned its deputy ambassador in Tel Aviv.
However, Turkey has been silent over alleged Israeli airstrikes last weekend against Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria.
The country also faces an economic downturn with a failing currency in light of a diplomatic falling-out and trade disagreement with the United States regarding the former keeping Andrew Brunson, an American pastor, hostage in the country over espionage. This rift includes Washington temporarily halting the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Ankara.
“Israel and Turkey face common security threats from the growing hegemony of Iran and its proxies in their neighborhood, and share the same dislike for [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s brutal regime,” said former Turkish parliament member Aykan Erdemir and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Although Erdoğan’s Islamist worldview and anti-Semitic prejudices have derailed Turkish-Israeli relations multiple times over the last decade, common security threats and diplomatic interests have pushed both countries toward pragmatic cooperation.”
“As long as Erdoğan stays in power, however, Ankara and Jerusalem will not be able to rebuild the trust necessary for a robust security and intelligence partnership,” added Erdemir. “Hence, bilateral relations will remain transactional.”
Diliman Abdulkader, director of the Kurdistan Project at the Endowment for Middle East Truth, echoed Erdemir’s thoughts, but said that “Israel should take a harder stance against a Turkey under Erdoğan. The idea of a strong Jewish state within Turkish society is deeply frowned upon, especially after the embassy move.”
“Turkey is unreliable and unpredictable,” warned Abdulkader, “and Israel should attempt to distance itself from it.”