Erdoğan courting Israel to prove good behaviour - analysts

Turkey is seeking to warm diplomatic ties with Israel in an attempt to prevent further punitive measures from the incoming Biden administration, analysts told Israel Hayom newspaper in an article published on Monday.

“What dictates relations between Israel and Turkey is how good relations are between the United States and Turkey,” said Hay Eitan Cohen Yanarocak, a Turkey analyst with the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.  

“The Turks are afraid of harsher American sanctions and they want help from the Israeli and Jewish lobbies, which they see as having a lot of sway in Washington. Their assumption is that renormalisation with Israel will be a trust-building step for Washington, a kind of proof of good behaviour.”

The Turkish government has expressed a willingness for better ties with Israel since reports in November revealed a series of meetings between the countries’ top intelligence officials to discuss reconciliation.

Turkey has also appointed a new ambassador to Israel two years after it recalled the previous envoy over Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza and the United States’ decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Israel has repeatedly slammed Turkey for courting Hamas, a Palestinian militant group at war with Israel and affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Islamist political movement.

Israeli state officials and analysts have expressed scepticism over the extent of Turkey’s sincerity to mend ties, describing it as a calculated and cynical bid by the Turkish government to preserve its interests.

“True normalisation is definitely appropriate, but after what we've been through with Turkey these last several years, we need to exercise caution,” Yanarocak said.

Turkey can take steps to prove its intention through ceasing its support of Hamas and harsh verbal attacks against Israel, the researcher said.

According to Pinhas Inbari of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, recent developments have shown that the Turkish government may turn its back on Hamas.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have also established a backdoor channel to discuss broad reconciliation between the two countries and Egypt in exchange for the Turkish government ousting members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Inbari said, citing Gulf sources.