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Why Israel Should Recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Israel must respond to its Western neighbor's recognition of Palestinian statehood.
A border crossing between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

A border crossing between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Photo Credit: Nicholas Hodder

The Republic of Cyprus has decided to upgrade the Palestinian delegation to Cyprus in order to make it an “embassy.” The Republic of Cyprus did this despite the fact that they are opposed to other countries recognizing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, also known as Northern Cyprus, which comprises the north eastern portion of the Island and desires recognition as a state.

Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention states that for an entity to be a state under international law it must possess: a permanent population; a defined territory; a government; and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Presently, Northern Cyprus meets all of these criteria. They have a permanent Turkish Cypriot population that makes up the majority of the population in Northern Cyprus, with an effective united government ruling over this territory and they furthermore have the ability to enter into relations with other states, if only the international community was receptive to them.

Contrast that with the Palestinians who are divided between Fatah in Judea and Samaria and Hamas in Gaza. Israel also controls 60 percent of Judea and Samaria, as well as Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as their capital. The Palestinians thus neither have a defined territory or government. Furthermore, with a great part of the Palestinian’s “refugee” population living in exile and Jewish communities scattered throughout areas that the Palestinians claim for a state (with Jews making up the majority of the population in what is known as “Area C”), it is questionable whether the Palestinians possess a permanent population as well.

The Turkish Cypriot cause is also one that Israelis should sympathize with. The London and Zurich Agreements of 1959 proclaimed that the island of Cyprus was supposed to be a partnership between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities. The Greek Cypriots violated this agreement in an attempt to unite the island with Greece, in order to deny the Turkish Cypriots political equality (just as the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world were against permitting Israel to exist under any borders). During 11 years of bloodshed, 103 Turkish Cypriot villages were destroyed. By the Turkish Intervention of 1974, the junta government of Cyprus had demonstrated genocidal ambitions against the Turkish Cypriots. As Nicos Sampson, then ruler of Cyprus, himself declared, “Had Turkey not intervened I not only would have declared Enosis (unification with Greece) but I would have annihilated the Turks in Cyprus.” That mirrors similar and continuing statements from Palestinians.

Since then, the Turkish Cypriots, like the Israelis, have been attempting to reach a peace agreement. Very much like the Israelis, the Turkish Cypriots have not had much luck in this regard. Under the most recent peace proposal, the U.N.-backed Annan Plan, 65 percent of the Turkish Cypriot population accepted while 76 percent of the Greek Cypriot population rejected the peace agreement. The Greek Cypriots have since remained intransigent in their positions – an intransigence Israel has similarly felt from the Arabs.

Regardless of the justice of the Turkish Cypriot’s cause, as of last November, 131 countries have recognized the fictitious “State of Palestine” – despite the fact the Palestinian’s seeking of such a status without Israeli agreement violates the Oslo Accords – and the Israeli government has yet to take punitive action against any of them. If Israel recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, it would send a strong message to all states that have elements that seek to secede and form separate states, that they too will face the consequences.

The Cyprus issue is also considered a top priority in Turkish foreign policy. Recognizing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, has the potential to significantly lesson the hostility between Israel and Turkey, despite the fact that the Islamist AKP is in power, without Israel having to issue any apology for the Mavi Marmara affair or making any other concessions to the AKP leadership. This could be good for regional stability and would lesson Israel’s isolation within the Islamic world.

Such a move might also enable Israel to build relations with the Turkish Cypriot nation, which is significantly more secular than the AKP government in Turkey and thus is not inherently hostile towards Israel. Israel could enjoy a similar relationship with the Turkish Cypriots that Israel presently enjoys with Azerbaijan, offering Israel many business and tourism opportunities.

About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel's Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media."

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71 Responses to “Why Israel Should Recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”

  1. I am disturbed by the misappropriation of history by this author. Another Greek hating Jew.

  2. I am disturbed by the misappropriation of history by this author. Another Greek hating Jew.

  3. "Another Greek hating Jew"?
    How on earth did you reach that conclusion?

  4. Christos Had says:

    1 you have no clue what you are talking about. Read some history books you ignorant Jew.


  6. The entire world community [Turkey aside] recognizes the fact that Northern Cyprus is under occupation. Like it or not this is the honest truth



  9. Don't worry time is near… Cyprus will be free :)

  10. @volkan: Using capital letters does not render your arguments valid.

  11. Very well written, thank you Rachel.

  12. Israel should first and foremost recognize the Armenian Genocide, the predecessor of the Holocaust, because: "Who after all speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" – Adolf Hitler, August 22, 1939.

  13. This is a brilliant idea, Israel should recognize Turkish republic of northern Cyprus the way Cyprus has upgraded the Palestinian delegation to Cyprus in order to make it an embassy. Cyprus' double standarts : they did it but they are opposed to other countries recognizing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Two-faced.

  14. Emily Makedonas says:

    This author is making some completely false statements, it seems she doesn't even know the history of the Island. She should not be writing if she does not know enough about the situation.

  15. Emily Makedonas says:

    This author is making some completely false statements, it seems she doesn't even know the history of the Island. She should not be writing if she does not know enough about the situation.

  16. Philip Djaferis says:

    amazing 'gobledigook'…strange that such poor analysis got past the editor; this is not even comparing apples with oranges…
    whoever Rachel purports to be she has no clue of international law – the so called TRNC is occupied territory by Turkey and the locals are neither the majority nor do they control it – anyway, a rather naive article overall. Leaving aside the merits or demerits of the recent communist Cyprus government's decision, adopted in haste prior to its demise, 131 states have recognised Palestine as a state but only Turkey recognises its puppet as such; that should be enough for now.

  17. Hus Djemal says:

    My patriot Emily Makedonas. The Author knows the history of Cyprus better than you.

  18. you dont need a history book when you, and your entire family was born, raised and then made a refugee there when Turkey conducted a military invasion which coincidently killed many more Cypriots than Turks. In any case, Jewish support of the pseudo-state will just add to the fuel; they support the recognition of a state within a state, but cant do the same in their own back yard. Please do educate me about double standards.

  19. Timothy Spyrou says:

    I wouldn't be too worked up about this…its a small right wing tabloid with only 50000 readers and has limited influence within the Jewish community in America and in Israel itself.

  20. Stupid article…this is the kind of reasoning that has lead Israel in almost total isolation.

  21. Nathan Warszawski says:

    Greeks hate Jews, Turks hate Jews. What the Rson to recognize Turkish Cyprus?

  22. There is a difference between the AKP leadership in Turkey, which is no friend of Israel, and the Turkish Cypriot nation and their leadership, which is not hostile towards Israel. You should not confuse the two. There is great potential for a friendship between Turkish Cypriots and Jews; and despite the fact that both Greece and the AKP leadership are no fans of Jews, we should recognize TRNC to send a message to all nations that have territorial disputes that they should not recognize Palestine.

  23. Cyprus was the one who started this by recognizing Palestine. If Cyprus doesn't want Israel to recognize TRNC, then they should have thought about that before recognizing Palestine. After opening up a Palestinian Embassy, Cyprus truly deserves to witness Israel recognize TRNC independence. Your argument isn't convincing to any Israeli audience. TRNC deserves to be a state much more than Palestine. At least they control the territory they claim.

  24. Angela Antoniou BTW, I know of plenty of Turkish Cypriots with similar stories about being refugees and victims of the violence in Cyprus. The violence was definitely not one-way. 103 Turkish Cypriot villages were destroyed before 1963 and 1974. All objective sources recognize that the violence wasn't one way. The difference is that Nicos Sampson had genocidal ambitions, while Turkey merely wanted to force the Greek Cypriots out of a given area so that Turkish Cypriots would have an area to call home.

  25. Tim Upham says:

    Recognizing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not the answer, by any nation-state. Negotiations must be done to politically reunited the island. Nobody recognizes it, because it is just a Mediterranean "Bantustan."

  26. Philip Djaferis says:

    Rachel, with all due respect, you live in delusion – your analysis is totally flawed and replete with inaccurate and skewed interpretations. By the way, which 103 villages were destroyed? Do you mean that all TCs left from maybe 103 villages? Please use accurate language even if you are being biased.
    By the way, are you claiming that there is no good will at all between Greek Cypriots and Israel? Are you aware of the decades old friendships that many of us have with Israelis, the multitudes of Cypriot patients that Israeli doctors have treated, the recent close cooperation on gas exploration etc? By the way, your logic also is divisive in terms of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots who have renewed friendships and would wish for a united future…

  27. Since when is international politics about who's right? Rachel is making a point, a POLITICAL point, that it could be in Israel's interest to use this opportunity to mend things with Turkey without a compensation or an apology about the Mavi Marmara incident, regain an ally and fix the economical relations. You should focus on this.

  28. According to the British Northern Cyprus Parliamentary group, Greek Cypriots destroyed 103 Turkish Cypriot villages between 1963-1974. This number didn't pop out of nowhere. I never claimed that all Turkish Cypriots are originally from those villages, but many Turkish Cypriots became refugees because of the violence that occurred between 1963-1974. Thus, every thing that I wrote is accurate. I am familiar with how Greek Cypriots did help Jews who were interned in Cyprus by the British and about the recent cooperation on gas exploration between Israel and Cyprus, and I am grateful for that. However, I am also very much familiar with how the Greek Cypriot leadership has supported Israel's enemies as well, and when Greek Cyprus recognizes Palestine, I feel like sending a strong message that resonates with Greek Cypriots that this is not acceptable. As for what Turkish Cypriots want, most favor independence from both Turkey and TRNC. Almost all of the Turkish Cypriots I have spoken to, and I have spoken to many since I visited TRNC, have supported independence from both Turkey and Greek Cyprus. It is true that they have their own grievances against Turkey, yet it is also true that they also have many against Greek Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots used to support reunification under the Annan Plan, yet the Greek Cypriots rejected that peace deal.

  29. Sampson was president for 8 days – hardly enough to do any damage, in any case he was also a puppet of the Greek led military junta and not someone whose words you should be quoting in referral to the island as a whole. Furthermore, if Israel decided its foreign policy in according to its wishes for revenge im sure you can find a few other of the more than a hundred countries that recognise Palestine and not just a small island who by the way has always had good relations with your State.O n the other hand, you mentioned yourself that this is just a way to appease Turkey which will never cease to be a Muslim state and as such will always stick with its Islamic brothers- as it should!

  30. Rachel Avraham did you also forget that Turkey recognised Palestine? and those 103 villages you keep repeating your limited data about also had Cypriot inhabitants. Calling them Turkish Cypriot doesnt change anything, there was inter communal fighting on both sides due to a lack of political discussion when the Turkish side sabotaged our constitution and left their positions in Parliament- in preparation for an invasion i might add.

  31. Enjoy picking a fight with the other 100+ states that recognise Palestine, and not the only country in the that still has a divided capital after the fall of the Berlin wall, as well as over 1000 missing persons who did not escape the invasion, and the refugees who left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing while the hotels, houses and businesses they had built where 'adopted' by the invaders and sold!!Sound a little like something your people may have gone through doest it? Granted not to the same extent but your arguments condone violent military invasion

  32. More rubbish from ignorant commentators. I was going to add more but I could not be bothered.

    Trying to justify and legitimise the so called TRNC when the whole world (apart from Turkey & sometimes Pakistan) do not recognise it is just because the Cyprus government decided (rightly or wrongly) to grand Palestinians consular status is simply pathetic.

  33. Philip Djaferis says:

    you make me laugh – please name the 103 destroyed villages – Cyprus is not that big…there are a couple of abandoned villages but that's about it. Referring to a biased group's report does not render legitimacy to your article; are you sending strong messages to the other EU members which recognised Palestine? what's your gripe with Cyprus? and please be accurate – its not Greek Cyprus – its the Republic of Cyprus.
    You also ignore the Turkey's policy of coercing their kin to become and live like internal refugees, a little like Palestinian (Arab) polices which you must be familiar with and also blind to the fact (or you are conveniently ignoring it?) that Turkey ethnically cleansed the north of the island to further their own agenda?

  34. I agree that Sampson was only in power for eight days, yet he did a lot of damage during that period of time and could have done much more if his power wasn't checked. For the record, the reason why I decided that Israel should start by responding to Cyprus because what Cyprus did was hypocritical. They have a section that wants to break off and form a separate country, yet despite this, they recognized Palestine. I also am opposed to Turkey recognizing Palestine, yet Turkey is not as hypocritical on this since they don't have an ethnic minority with effective control over part of their country. However, I definitely would support taking punitive measures against the AKP government in Turkey by recognizing a Kurdish state, even though a Kurdish state exists about as much as Palestine exists. I have zero desire to appease the AKP government in Turkey, to the contrary of your claims. I would like to lesson the hostility, but my main goal in recognizing TRNC is reaching out and building ties with indigenous Turkish Cypriots, who are not AKP supporters. Believe me, I actually hate Erdogan much more than I hate your Greek Cypriot president who recognized Palestine. Erdogan is an anti-semite, pure and simple. He even wrote an anti-semitic play in the 1970's. However, I recognize that there is a difference between AKP and Turkish Cypriots. I support moderate secular Turkish Cypriots, not the AKP.

  35. BTW, I support punitive measures for all countries that have a segment of the population that has effective control over part of a given countries territory and seeks to break away, and then that country recognizes Palestine. I support Israel doing likewise for all countries in a similar position to Cyprus, not just Cyprus. However, since Cyprus was the most recent one, they are a good place to start. As for your history, it is way off. The Greek Cypriots under Makarios forced the Turkish Cypriots out of parliament and were the ones to violate the Zurich and London agreements. There was eleven years of bloodshed before Turkey finally intervened. For every sad Greek Cypriot refugee story from 1974, there are also plenty of sad Turkish Cypriot stories from between 1963-1974. There were many massacres of Turkish Cypriots. These stories matter just as much as the Greek Cypriot stories. You can't pretend like you guys are the only victims of this violence, when you weren't. Furthermore, Greek Cyprus went on to become a state and enter into the EU, while Turkish Cyprus was stuck in limbo, even though the violence started with the expulsion of Turkish Cypriots from the government and Bloody Christmas. Thus, you can't use Greek Cypriot suffering, which did happen and no one is denying it, as an excuse for Israel not to look out for her best interests and ignore the fact that Cyprus opened a Palestinian Embassy.

  36. I am sorry, but the report from the British North Cyprus Parliamentary Group is a lot more objective than you. I will trust a report written by them over some talk-back any day. The data came from The Cyprus Question by Michael Stephen. You are welcome to read the book yourself. I am a busy woman and don't have time to list 103 villages just to satisfy a talk-backer, so just read the book. And Turkey is not causing the Turkish Cypriots to live like internal refugees. They grant Turkish Cypriots Turkish passports and provide for their needs, which is more than I can say for all of the Arab states regarding the Palestinian refugees. Furthermore, I never ignored that almost half of the Greek Cypriot population became refugees in 1974. I even mentioned it in another article that I wrote. However, it seems like many talk-backers ignore the 103 Turkish Cypriot villages that were destroyed. And for the record, my only gripe with Cyprus is that they opened up a Palestinian Embassy, despite the whole TRNC recognition issue. Had they not done that, I would not have written this article.

  37. Emily Makedonas says:

    You are so ignorant but yet you are still talking about the cyprus issue. If you had read or knew anything about the Annan plan you would know that cypriots would have been crazy to sign it. There were other countries that would have gained from the plan but surly not the cypriots. I have turkish cypriot friends, who do not want the northern side to be recognised, and do not want the turkish government and want to be reunited. You should also know that there is a difference between the turkish cypriots and the turkish who were brought to the island after the war. You can talk about your countries issues (not about things you don't know enough about), you don't see anyone else talking about other countries issues that they don't know enough about here. You have just offended and continue to offend the majority of the cypriot population.

  38. If the Greek Cypriots had accepted the Annan Plan, the conflict would have been solved. Maybe it wasn't perfect, but it certainly is better than the status quo and no plan is ever perfect (I can tell you about how problematic the Oslo agreements were from an Israeli perspective, yet we supported it in the end, unlike the Palestinians, for we wanted there to be peace). The Greek Cypriots need to compromise if they want peace, even if the deal isn't 100 percent to their liking. They are never going to get any deal that doesn't recognize Turkish Cypriot political equality and Greek Cypriots, if they want peace, should be more flexible. I have many Turkish Cypriot friends and none of them want to live under Greek Cypriot rule. It is true that they don't want Turkey to annex either and that they don't like the Turkish settlers (I am well aware there is a difference between Turkish Cypriots and Turks), yet that does not mean that they support being under Greek Cypriot rule either. I actually have been to TRNC and the Republic of Cyprus, and read many books on this topic before reaching my conclusion. Therefore, I have a right to have an opinion and to express it, especially when Cyprus involves themselves in Israeli business by recognizing Palestine and opening up a Palestinian Embassy. My advise to you as a Cypriot is that if you don't want to see Israel recognize TRNC, lobby your government to rescind the recognition of Palesine. Until Cyprus rescinds the recognition of Palestine, no Cypriot has a right to lecture Israelis on why they should not expose Cypriot hypocrisy. You simply cannot open up a Palestinian Embassy and expect Israelis to not point out how much it is hypocritical for Cyprus to do that, while insisting noone recognizes TRNC.

  39. Hus Djemal says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I must say you are one of few editors that publishes the truth in my eyes. Up to now I thought the whole world turned blind eye to Cyprus situation.

  40. Constantine Alexandrou says:

    Rachel Avraham you are a sniveling child upset because of the legitimate actions of another country. You're facts are not accurate, they are ridiculous, and your arguments flawed. Firstly you claim 103 Turkish Cypriot villages were destroyed from 1963-1974, this is utter rubbish. The whole of Cyprus is composed of around 520 villages, so you're trying to tell us, the people who are from this country, that a minority accounting for only 18% of the population were the majority population in around 20% of all the villages, excluding mixed villages? How absurd. That would mean that the Turkish Cypriots would just about populate 103 villages and so all of these would have been destroyed leaving nowhere for them to go. So I’m guessing by 1974, all Turkish Cypriots were crammed into one or two villages? No. That is why there were still many Turkish Cypriots who lived in the South immediately after the illegal invasion who were then transferred to the occupied side. Secondly, most of the inter-communal violence occurred in 1963-1964 which by the end the Turkish army had set up enclaves and forced many Turkish Cypriots to uproot from mixed villages and enter these zones, just look at famous Turkish Cypriots such as Dr Ishan Ali and Dervis Kavazoglu, the latter of which was assassinated by the Turkish Cypriot terrorist group for promoting peace. Back to my point, most of the violence ended in 1964 and completely stopped in 1967 when Turkish jets NAPALMED bordering Greek Cypriot villages to the enclaves. So “11 years of bloodshed” is completely fatuous. Thirdly, the Greek Cypriot population rejected the Annan Plan because it would have made Cyprus subservient to Turkey; I’m not going go into further detail you can easily find out the many reasons – point by point – with a quick search. Fourthly, you really must be getting your information all from biased Turkish Cypriot, our intransigence? Even the former leader of the Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat has expressed that it is their new leader who has forced negotiations to collapse by back tracking on agreements previously made between the two communities. All your arguments have been totally disproved by me, which is very embarrassing for you really because I’m assuming you’re actually paid to write this nonsense and I just sit here writing this casually.

    In reflection you have no idea at all what the situation in Cyprus and you are clearly blinded by your own extremely right views. You are act like a child, I read your responses to other commentators which include phrases such as “Cyprus started it”, how old are you really? And in fact we have not “started it” we have had a strong relationship with the Palestinians for decades because our plights are similar while only up until recently Israel has been more than just encouraging to Turkey’s illegal occupation of the northern third of Cyprus. Your conclusion to this article is malicious and only for the purpose of aggravating the Greek Cypriots. It is a typical angry response of a right-wing imperialist and no one should take it seriously. You completely disregard all the important convergences the two countries have made in terms of gas and defence over one minor action. So next time you attempt to write an “informative” article, words which I use very loosely in this case, do not go straight to the most biased party to get your facts because ultimately it has made you look incredibly ignorant and foolish.

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