Mar 24 2018

U.S’s Jerusalem embassy move risks Turkish relations

The United States' plan to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in May risks negatively impacting Turkey’s relations with both the United States and Israel, wrote Gallia Lindenstrauss in a blog published on the American non-profit organization Bipartisan Policy Center’s website.

The relationship between Israel and Turkey is of great importance to United States, not least because of its potential to impact the proposed two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As such, the United States worked hard to repair ties between Israel and Turkey that were severely damaged after a 2010 incident in which an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla attempting to the break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza resulted in the deaths of 9 people. Although Turkey and Israel signed a normalization agreement in 2016, this will be placed at risk should the United States relocate its embassy.

Turkey’s has already made threatening noises regarding the plan. In December last year President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to cut ties with Israel as Turkey reacted angrily to news of the planned move.

Such reaction is unlikely to sway President Trump. But with the move scheduled to take place just prior to Muslim holy month of Ramadan, it will present President Erdoğan with further opportunities to manipulate the situation at a time when many expect him to call early elections.

Given this, says Lindenstrauss, the United States should spell out to Turkey that, “there should be limits to Turkish actions following the embassy move. In this respect, Washington should emphasize that any Turkish reaction to the embassy move should fall short of downgrading its diplomatic relations with Israel.”

The United States should also point to the benefits of positive relations between Turkey and Israel. Trade between the two countries is growing, whilst Israel’s transport infrastructure offer potential routes for Turkish exports in an unstable region.