Turkish-Israeli Relations: Time for Urgent Reassessment

(Hurriyet-Turkey) Ehud R. Toledano - Prime Minister Erdogan has been seeking to reposition Turkey as a regional power. However, as the current Gaza crisis erupted, Turkey found itself marginalized. Over the past two years, Turkey has damaged its relations with Israel and identified itself with Hamas to the extent that it has lost any credibility as a fair mediator. Beyond statements of harsh condemnation against Israel and enthusiastic support for Hamas, Erdogan can do practically nothing. Without the diplomatic capability to talk to Jerusalem, and having lost all trust within Israeli political circles, the Turkish prime minister can only sit in Cairo and watch how President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt mediates a cease-fire and negotiates a long-term arrangement between Israel and Hamas, with Egyptian guarantees. You need to talk to both sides if you want to be able to do that - Morsi, a president from the Muslim Brotherhood no less, can; Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, cannot. It was Erdogan's choice to bring about a virtual collapse of the relationship with Israel. What is clearly being put in jeopardy here is the Turkish national interest. In the absence of any serious cooperation with Israel, potential dangers for Turkey lie also in the area of knowing about terror threats and effectively fighting them. It is, therefore, time for Erdogan to reassess his policy toward Israel in light of recent events. He does not have to love Israel; but for Turkey's sake, he must be able to work with the Israeli government. The writer is professor of Ottoman and Turkish Studies at Tel Aviv University.

2012-11-23 00:00:00

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