Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. in Ankara on March 9, 2022

Turkey and Israel reestablishing diplomatic relations is a matter worth celebrating, although one should not expect ties to return to their honeymoon-like state like in the 1990s.

Ankara has always been the one to determine the degree of closeness between the two countries. Israel, on the other hand, has shown a consistent willingness to have good ties with Turkey due to it being a regional power.


It is one of the three largest countries in the Middle East, sits on a strategic bridge between Europe and Asia, and has the second-largest NATO military – after the United States – equipped with the best of US weapons.

The Turkish economy is among the 20 largest in the world and the country possesses an impressive industrial capacity. Ankara seeks to be the leader of the Muslim world and Jerusalem wants to have good ties with it to dim the religious aspect of the conflict with the Arab world.

The renewal of ties comes at a time of economic and political hardship in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s monetary policy and the tourism crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic have caused an economic crisis. Ankara saw an opportunity to become an energy bridge to Europe through a gas pipeline running from Israel. Reconciliation with Israel Jerusalem and the recognition of the Abrahamic Accords also helped gratify wealthy Gulf states and receive financial aid from them.

In addition, this new attitude toward Israel also reduces tensions with the US, which brokered and supports the Abraham Accords. Furthermore, the Biden administration is more critical of Turkey than its predecessor, and Israel – a close US ally – may mitigate some of that criticism.

By improving ties with Israel, Turkey is also trying to weaken its cooperation with rivals Greece and Cyprus with whom Ankara has ongoing disputes and security tensions. Furthermore, since the civil war and instability in Iraq, Turkey has used the port of Haifa and the passage to Jordan to export goods into the Arab world.

And yet, despite the economic dependence and Ankara’s change of tone, we must remember that as long as Islamist Erdogan is in power, Turkey will continue to be hostile toward Israel and support the Hamas terror group. It will also be difficult for Israel to accept Islamist Turkey with its Ottoman impulses in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

{Reposted from the IsraelHayom site}


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Efraim Inbar is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. This article is a revised version of a piece published at