Israel to explore improving relations with Turkey

The Israeli government has decided to engage in low-profile outreach to Turkey “to determine whether (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s) intentions are sincere,” analyst Barak Ravid wrote for Axios citing Israeli sources.

The development comes after Erdoğan publicly stated that he wished for better relations with the country, while continuing to stand by Palestine.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have deteriorated since 2008 to a state of ongoing crisis, to the point that Turkey downgraded diplomatic relations with the country in 2018 over unrest at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

The Israeli government is “uncertain how to read the signals,” but Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi held a meeting on Wednesday on the matter, Ravid said. In attendance were senior officials from the Prime Ministry, the Defence Ministry and Mossad.

Ravid cited officials present in the meeting as saying that Ashkenazi was sending out quiet feelers via several channels to assess Erdoğan’s comments.

While a Foreign Ministry spokesman declined to comment, officials told Ravid that they were engaging with the government in private.

The shift in Erdoğan’s tone can be attributed to the election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, the analyst said, as the Turkish president is concerned that Biden could take a hardline approach towards Turkey and warming relations with Israel could help prevent that from happening.

Israeli officials have been and will be very cautious, and the country would not harm its relations with Cyprus or Greece to improve relations with Turkey, Ravid said.

Several steps the Turkish president has taken since the U.S. elections have hinted at a recalibration of foreign and domestic policies, including the removal of Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak from office as finance minister, a renewed emphasis from Erdoğan and his cabinet on the rule of law and judicial and economic reforms, and the appointment of a new governor to Turkey’s Central Bank.

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