The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine

Ankara-Jerusalem relations

- – S.J.F.

Turkey’s ties with Israel have improved in the past year. The government of Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett agreed to reconcile with Ankara after years of Turkey’s being among Israel’s most vocal regional critics. In 2018 and 2019, Turkey’s president compared Israel to Nazi Germany, and Turkey hosted Hamas terrorists on numerous occasions. Today, although Turkey continues to host Hamas, relations with Israel have recovered to some extent.

Part of the process of reconcilia­tion has meant the return of an Israeli ambassador to Turkey. In addition, high-level visits have taken place, many of them for the first time in a decade. Meetings between the Turkish and Israeli foreign ministers, as well as the presidents and defense ministers, appear to be a very important turning point in ties. However, the sudden reconcilia­tion leads to questions about why Turkey-Israel relations were harmed in the first place.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Developmen­t Party (AKP) made it a point to increase popular hatred for Israel as a way to position itself as a leader in the Islamic world. Like Iran, Turkey adopted the Palestinia­n cause and began to back Hamas.

At the same time, Ankara blamed Israel for the downturn in relations, due to the Mavi Marmara incident. Ankara also slammed the US and Israel when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, and Turkey threatened to break ties with the UAE if the UAE made peace with Israel.

Ankara’s antics didn’t work, and Israel cemented the Abraham Accords over the last two years. Now Ankara appears to realize its anti-Israel behavior hasn’t resulted in any tangible benefits, and it used the departure of Netanyahu’s government as an excuse to turn a new page in ties.

Now that Netanyahu looks set to return to office, it is unclear whether Ankara can keep its antagonism to a minimum or whether relations will be put on ice again.

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