Opportunities and Obstacles to Normalization of Turkey-Israel Relations“
After the establishment Israel State in 1948, Turkey was the first country in the region that recognized Israel’s independence. It has been considered the most significant and vital issues in the region, so that although Israel’s relations with other countries in the region have constantly changed, but Ankara-Tel Aviv relations are normal and stable compared to other countries. This normalization of relations between the two sides continued until the arrival of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey in 2002 and even later, but the change in the direction of Turkey’s foreign policy and the strategy of the ruling party has affected the level and style of bilateral relations. Obviously, the stabilization of relations amid Turkey and Israel will not only affect the region, but also the global equations. The emergence of political and diplomatic conflict after 2010 has led to political and diplomatic relations that have reached the level of breakdown and fierce political attacks against each other at the highest level of both sides. There are a number of issues that are constantly seen as influential factors in the relationship between the two sides, including; The Palestinian issue, which is considered the most influential factor in their relations.
When events have occurred in the region over the previous four years, the two countries have reached a level to normalize their political and diplomatic relations again, especially after the process that the region has begun, which is to re-normalize Israeli relations with regional states. In early February, the Israeli prime minister visited Ankara to review the level of relations. On Wednesday, August 17, 2022, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the normalization of relations with Turkey as a major step towards regional stability and a vital economic development for Israelis. The Israeli prime minister said: With the full normalization of diplomatic relations, the ambassadors and consuls of both countries will resume their duties. The new decision comes after years of bilateral efforts to normalize relations through visits by leaders.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğludescribed the normalization of relations with Jerusalem as an “important step” but warned that it should not be interpreted as Ankara’s withdrawal from the Palestinian issue, saying Turkey would always defend Palestinian rights.
In May, Çavuşoğlu became the first Turkish foreign minister to visit Israel in the last 15 years, during which he went to the West Beach and met with the Palestinian leaderships.
• Stabilization of Israeli – Palestinian relations; the most vital opportunity that contributes to the normalization of Turkish-Israeli relations is finding an appropriate solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, because Turkey has been one of the countries that has made the most efforts in this issue.
• Ankara – Tel Aviv coordination in the Mediterranean; One of the most important motives that can be seen as an opportunity for the normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel is the issue of coordination between the two sides in the Mediterranean on energy and natural gas concerns.
• Securing the support of the Jewish lobby; in recent years, Turkey has received the support of the Jewish lobby in the United States, especially in rejecting the Armenian genocide charges in the US Congress.
Second: the challenges
Despite the opportunities for the normalization of political and diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, there are numerous factors that can be considered as obstacles, including;
• The Palestinian issue; the most important reason for the deterioration of relations between both is the Palestinian issue. After the AKP came to power, it represents itself as right-wing and defender of Muslims, so Turkey should not be expected to remain indifferent to Palestine.
• Israeli nuclear weapons issue; Israel is the only country in the Middle East region to have nuclear weapons, although it is officially recognized, but it encourages other countries in the region to have nuclear weapons. While this issue does not directly affect the normalization of Turkey-Israel relations, however, it is considered a challenge due to the impact of instability in the region.
• November early elections in Israel; even though it is unclear who will come to power, a change could directly damage the normalization process with Turkey, especially the victory of former Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.
• The issue of Israeli relations with Greece and Greek Cyprus; Israel’s upright relations with Greece and Greek Cyprus will directly affect the level and style of Ankara-Tel Aviv relations, because Turkey has always seen this issue as a political card and a threat.
As a result, Turkey and Israel ties have normalized for the second time since the 2010 breakdown. It has the potential to provide opportunities such as resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, energy cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean, ending the civil war in Syria and reducing Iran’s influence in the region, increasing economic ties and ensuring regional stability.