(Israel Hayom via JNS) Turkey has made it clear to Israel that from its perspective it is ready to dispatch an ambassador to Tel Aviv once the Israeli government commits to simultaneously reciprocating the measure, a senior Turkish official told Israel Hayom. The main point of contention between the two former allies remains the presence of senior Hamas officials on Turkish soil.
Following years of contentious relations, Turkey recently altered its foreign policy toward the region in general and Israel in particular. In December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared that “Turkey wants to improve its relations with Israel. Our intelligence cooperation with Israel is ongoing.” This occurred some three weeks after his close confidant, former Admiral Cihat Yayci, proposed a shared maritime border deal with Israel, which was first reported by Israel Hayom. The trend continued earlier this month, when Dr. Hakan Yurdakul, a board member of the Turkish Presidency’s Committee for Economic Policies, attended a European Jewish Parliament conference focusing on a renewed agenda between the former allies.
Israel is not the only country in the Middle East with which Ankara wants to rehabilitate and normalize relations. In Ankara’s efforts to normalize ties with Cairo, Turkish authorities on March 20 ordered Istanbul-based TV channels affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood to immediately stop airing criticism of Egypt. This could indicate that if Israel agrees to restore relations with Turkey, Erdoğan’s government could work, to some extent or another, to remove or stifle the senior Hamas leaders residing in Istanbul. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed recently that Israel was “engaged in talks with Turkey” about natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Netanyahu also noted that Israel was holding fruitful talks with Egypt, Greece and Cyprus on the issue of exporting gas to Europe.
Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, an expert on contemporary Turkish politics and foreign policy, told Israel Hayom: “The question isn’t whether Turkey wants to normalize relations with Israel or not; it’s whether it needs to–and it does. Turkey’s immediate interests require immediate alterations to its foreign policy regarding the eastern Mediterranean and Syria. Iran’s influence in the region is growing, and Turkey wants to curb this influence in Syria, just as Israel does. Meanwhile, Turkish-U.S. relations are deteriorating by the day. Therefore, Ankara needs Jerusalem as a ‘bridge’ to Washington in order to alleviate the pressure from the Biden administration.”
Main Photo: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Source: Turkish Presidency via Twitter.