Several months ago, the groundwork for a rapprochement began to be laid. Since then, Ankara and Jerusalem have deepened cooperation in economics, trade and security

Israel and Turkey re-establish diplomatic relations

photo_camera PHOTO/AFP - Combination of images of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to reappoint ambassadors and consuls in both countries, restoring diplomatic relations. According to Lapid, this development will contribute to deepening economic, commercial and cultural ties between the two peoples, and will also strengthen "regional stability".

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described this as "a positive step" during a press conference in Ankara. "The official procedure for the appointment of the ambassador will begin after we present a decree to our president," the Turkish diplomat reported the Hurriyet newspaper as saying. 

In 2018 Turkey recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv after the killing of 60 Palestinians during protests on the Gaza border against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. Subsequently, Israel also recalled its ambassador to Ankara.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog welcomed this important step, which "will promote economic relations, tourism and friendship between the Israeli and Turkish peoples", as he wrote on Twitter. Herzog, like Lapid, made reference to the region, saying that "good neighbourly relations and the spirit of partnership in the Middle East are important for all of us". "Members of all religions - Muslims, Jews and Christians - can and must live together in peace," he added.

It is precisely the Israeli leader who has become one of the protagonists of this new stage in relations between the two countries. His visit to Ankara in March - the first by an Israeli president in the last 14 years - began to lay the foundations for a thaw in bilateral ties. 

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Following this visit, which, according to Erdogan, marked "a turning point" in relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, Cavusoglu travelled to Israel in May. The head of Turkish diplomacy agreed to work with Lapid, then foreign minister, on a new civil aviation treaty. This agreement, signed last July, allows Israeli airlines to resume operations in Turkey

In addition to economic and commercial cooperation, Israel and Turkey also work together on security issues. This partnership intensified in June after Turkish and Israeli intelligence services uncovered Iranian plans to kidnap Israeli citizens in Turkey. As a result, the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT) and security forces arrested 10 Iranians suspected of planning attacks against Israelis in Istanbul. 

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Both Israeli and Turkish authorities praised this cooperation. "The lives of Israeli citizens have been saved thanks to the security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Turkey," Lapid said in Ankara.

The Palestinian cause, key to Israel-Turkey relations 

Despite this rapprochement and partnership in several areas, Turkey does not want to dissociate itself from the Palestinian cause, the main cause of disputes between Ankara and Jerusalem in recent years. The Turkish Foreign Minister assured that the normalisation of relations with Israel "would have a positive impact on the peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict". 

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Nonetheless, this long-standing confrontation continues to condition Israeli-Turkish relations. During the latest Israel Defence Forces (IDF) operation in Gaza against Islamic Jihad, Erdogan took a firm and clear stance against Israeli attacks and stood with the Palestinian people and "their brothers in Gaza". The Turkish president accused the Jewish state of "killing children and babies" and claimed that the Al-Aqsa mosque was its "red line", Hurriyet reported. 

Erdogan also referred to the current relations with Israel, saying that the return to "normality" serves to "defend the rights of our Palestinian brothers and sisters", the Turkish daily reported.

Cavusoglu made a similar statement after announcing the restoration of diplomatic relations. "We will not give up on the Palestinian cause," he said. The minister also stressed that it is "important that our messages are conveyed directly through the ambassador".

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Turkey, despite being one of the first Muslim countries to establish relations with the Jewish state, has had many disagreements with Israel in recent years. Many of these disputes have been linked precisely to the Palestinian issue, such as the May 2010 incident off the coast of Gaza.

The Turkish ship 'Mavi Marmara' - which was intended to bring humanitarian aid to the Palestinian enclave - was raided by the Israeli navy. Israeli troops killed several Turkish pro-Palestinian activists, causing a deep rift in relations between Jerusalem and Ankara. 

Una excavadora retira los escombros de un edificio destruido por un ataque a茅reo israel铆 en la 煤ltima ronda de combates entre Israel y los militantes palestinos, en Rafah, en el sur de la Franja de Gaza, el 14 de agosto de 2022 AFP/ SAID KHATIB

Today, however, both countries are seeking to strengthen and establish relations at the regional level. Israel, through the Abraham Accords, is developing strong ties with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Bahrain while reaching out to Saudi Arabia. Turkey, for its part, has improved ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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