Israel must approach Erdoğan with respect and suspicion - analyst

Israel must be careful in its approach with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan so as not to be caught off guard when he engages in another vitriolic tirade against the Jewish state despite ongoing efforts for rapprochement,wrote Eyal Zisser, a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University, in Israel Hayom newspaper.

Erdoğan has come a long way from his incident with former President Shimon Peres at the Davos summit in 2009, shortly after Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, when stormed off the stage after accusing Israel of killing Palestinian children, Zisser wrote, pointing to recent efforts by Ankara to mend ties.

Following a decade-long deterioration, Israeli-Turkish relations are showing signs of repair, with Erdoğan in an unexpected statement in December saying he wants to better tiesand just last week calling the new Israeli President  Isaac Herzog to congratulate him on entering office.

The change in tone by Turkey’s strongman is attributable to “Erdogan's combative and contrarian policies toward the entire world have led him to a dead end,’’ the analyst wrote, pointing to Turkey’s ailing economy, the uncertainty surrounding its military involvement in Syria and Libya, as well as tensions in U.S. relations.

“Erdogan wants to improve relations with Turkey's neighbors so as not to be left behind,’’ Zisser wrote, prompting him to first court Egypt, another country Ankara has strained ties with.

Last month a Turkish delegation held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo, marking the first direct contact between the regional rivals in years, after they fell out following the Egyptian army’s toppling of a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

“Speaking with Turkey is important, and advancing economic and perhaps other cooperation with it is an Israeli interest,’’ according to the analyst, who maintains Israel would benefit from using the same approach it has for Jordan, a security partner of great importance in the east, whose population has a penchant for hatred for Israel.