Israel and Turkey resume full diplomatic relations
Israel and Turkey are fully restoring diplomatic relations after years of ice age. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced on Wednesday that “full diplomatic relations and the return of ambassadors and consuls general to both countries” had been agreed. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke about an important step “to improve bilateral relations”. However, this does not mean that Ankara abandons the “Palestinian cause”, he emphasized.
Both sides decided to restore their bilateral relations during the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Turkey in March. Relations between Turkey and Israel have been extremely tense since 2010.
At that time, Israeli forces stormed the Turkish aid flotilla heading to Gaza and killed ten activists. In 2018, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and expelled the Israeli ambassador after dozens of Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.
Turkey’s Islamic-conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an important supporter of the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict. He also has ties to the Palestinian organization Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the EU and the US, and which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
Restoring relations with Turkey is important for regional stability and “very important economic news for the citizens of Israel,” Lapid said. President Herzog also emphasized the importance of “strong economic ties, mutual tourism and friendship” between the two nations.
In the evening, Lapid called the Islamic conservative President Erdogan, as announced by Lapid’s office. Both agreed that recent developments will lead to the implementation of many projects, especially in the economic and tourism sectors. According to Lapid, direct flights between Israel and Turkey will soon be restored.
Despite all the diplomatic differences, trade between the two countries continued in recent years. Many Israelis also vacation in Turkey, which is currently in a deep economic crisis with extremely high inflation. Ankara also announced in January that it was ready to work with Israel on a gas pipeline project in the eastern Mediterranean.
Cavusoglu went to Israel at the end of May, trying to bring the two countries closer together. He now emphasized that Ankara will continue to “protect the rights of Palestinians, Jerusalem and Gaza”. At a press conference held in Ankara, he said that the ambassador, who will soon be appointed in Tel Aviv, can “directly” convey Turkey’s statements on the Palestinian issue to Israel.
Efrem Inbar, director of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, pointed to Turkey’s importance for Israel as a possible regional “counterweight” to Iran. Muslim Turkey is strategically very important country.