Israeli military lists Turkey as threat for first time

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership has resulted in Turkey being considered a threat by Israel for the first time, the Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

The Israeli military added Turkey to its list of threats in an assessment for the year 2020 without listing a specific reason, the report said.

The assessment instead indicated issues related to Erdoğan’s policies generally, adding that those issues were not inherent to Turkey’s outlook and would not necessarily outlive Erdoğan.

The two countries maintain diplomatic ties, but Erdoğan’s support of the Palestinian cause has led to shaky relations in recent years.

The Turkish president, who cut his teeth in Turkey’s political Islamist movement, is known to support Hamas, the militant Islamist organisation that controls Gaza and which Israel, the United States and the European Union list as a terrorist organisation.

Shortly after Erdoğan received Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Turkey in December, the Daily Telegraph published a report citing Israeli and Egyptian intelligence and other sources that said Hamas operatives had planned an assassination in Israel from headquarters in Istanbul.

Another dispute has been heating up over Erdoğan’s expansionist moves in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey laid claim to a large maritime jurisdiction overlapping with Greek and Cypriot claims in a deal struck with Libya in November.

The maritime territory claimed by Turkey lies in the path of a pipeline planned by Greece, Cyprus and Israel to carry natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.

And Turkey has discussed plans to build its own pipeline to Libya, a move that would infringe on Greek territorial waters, the Times of Israel said.