BICOM has produced a briefing on the ongoing reconciliation process between Israel and Turkey. The briefing outlines the reasons for the breakdown of Israel-Turkey relations, the background to the reconciliation and the strategic significance of a potential agreement.
Read the key points below and download the full briefing here.
- Following years of on-off back-room negotiations, Israel and Turkey have made significant progress on an agreement to restore full diplomatic ties. In late February, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a cabinet meeting that normalisation efforts between Israel and Turkey were close to being completed and that the two countries were expected to make a joint statement “in the coming days.” However Turkey’s future role in the Gaza Strip continues to be a major issue yet to be resolved, with Israel’s close ally Egypt significantly opposing any Turkish presence.
- Relations between Israel and Turkey deteriorated sharply following Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 and collapsed in 2010 after the deaths of nine Turkish citizens killed while trying to prevent Israeli commandos taking over a Gaza-bound protest ship, the Mavi Marmara. Israel’s ambassador to Turkey was expelled in 2011.
- Turkey has experienced mounting foreign policy headaches with the collapse of its “zero problems with neighbours” policy. The country is facing a resurgent hostile Assad regime, an increasingly independent Kurdish region arising on its border, and strained relations with Egypt, Iran and Russia. It has also been targeted by Islamic state (ISIS) and Kurdish separatists. As regional instability increases, Israel and Turkey possess many shared strategic interests, primarily relating to the threat of the rise of ISIS and the growth of Iranian power.
- While the restoration of ties may not significantly change the strategic landscape of the Middle East, it will likely yield increasing cooperation in the field of natural gas, with the potential for building a sub-sea pipeline from Israel’s gas fields to Turkey.