Israel and Turkey Announce the Normalization of Diplomatic Relations
On August 17, 2022, Israel and Turkey announced the full restoration of diplomatic relations.
According to Press TV, this move will result in the mutual reinstatement of ambassadors, “marking the culmination of hectic efforts by the two sides to repair bilateral ties following years of tensions.”
During a press conference on August 17, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said to reporters that the move represented “a milestone” in the two countries’ attempts to mend their otherwise strained relationship.
“The steps we would take to normalize relations includes mutually reappointing of ambassadors. At the news conference we held with [Israeli Prime Minister Yair] Lapid in this hall, we made a statement that we started the work on the appointment of ambassadors,” he stated.
“As a result of these efforts, such a positive step came from Israel. Of course, we, as Turkey, have decided to appoint an ambassador to Israel, to Tel Aviv,” Cavusoglu remarked during a news conference with Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Jeenbek Kulubaev.
Cavusoglu noted that Turkey’s decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel does not mean Turkey would leave the Palestinians hanging.
“We are not giving up on the Palestinian cause. It is important for our messages to be conveyed directly through the ambassador .”
Earlier on August 17, the Israeli prime minister published a statement where he announced the “upgrading of relations” between the two Middle Eastern players.
“It was decided to once again upgrade the level of the relations between” Israel and Turkey “to that of full diplomatic ties and to return ambassadors and consuls general from” the two nations, Lapid stated.
Lapid remarked that “renewing relations with Turkey is an important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for” Israelis.
“Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between” the two sides, “expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” Lapid proclaimed in his statement.
Previously, Turkey kicked out the Israeli ambassador in 2018 over the Israeli government’s killing of 60 Palestinians during protests in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli border. The protests were in response to the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
At the time, Erdogan sharply criticized Israel and declared that it was committing a “genocide” against the Palestinian people and acting like a “terrorist” state. The authorities responded to the Turks with an expulsion of the Turkish ambassador to Israel.
Back in 2010, relations between Israel and Turkey took a turn for the worse when Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla, which was ostensibly delivering humanitarian aid and construction materials to the Gaza Strip, and killed 10 Turkish nationals.
Traditionally, Israel and Turkey have maintained solid relations. This was part of Israel’s “Periphery doctrine”, where it would forge strategic partnerships and alliances with non-Arab Muslim states — who were mostly hostile to Israel at the time — in the Middle East throughout the Cold War.
The alliance of the periphery strategy has largely failed due to the subsequent Islamization taking place in Iran and Turkey. However, in the latter’s case there are still avenues for cooperation.
Turkey has historically been a strategic rival of Iran and currently has antagonistic interests in areas such as Syria and parts of Iraq. Israel, which does not desire hegemony on the part of either country, will likely seek to exploit these antagonisms and effectively have Iran and Turkey bleed each other out. During that process, Israel grows stronger and can sit back as the rest of the region eats itself alive.
No matter how you spin it, that’s how you run realpolitik.