Israel Must Accept That Turkey Is Neither Friend nor Foe

After being imprisoned for eight days on highly dubious espionage charges while vacationing in Turkey, an Israeli husband and wife were allowed to return home. The fact that the vacationing couple was detained in the first place does not signal the end of the once-friendly relations between Ankara and Jerusalem—which have been deteriorating for nearly two decades—nor does their release portend a restoration of those relations, argues Eyal Zisser. Rather, he writes, the incident supports a realistic appraisal of ties between the Jewish state and its former ally:

The simple truth is that these ties have a glass ceiling that we cannot and should not attempt to break. Below it exists a reasonable and tolerable relationship, better even than those that Israel maintains with other countries in the region. After all, when was the last time Israeli tourists visited Cairo or Amman en masse? We should protect and advance this relationship, but we should not expect to achieve much more than we currently have.

[E]ver since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power in the early 2000s, bilateral ties have been in an ongoing state of crisis. They have been held hostage to the ups and downs of Israel-Palestinian relations. Each incident that takes place in Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip leads him to excoriate Israel, sometimes to the point of anti-Semitism, and even to go so far as to harm [Israel’s] diplomatic representatives in Ankara and Istanbul.

At the same time, Erdogan has taken care not to cross the line by avoiding harming economic ties, which have in fact continued to develop. This is in fact a pattern in his treatment of other countries, chief among them the U.S. and European states. Yet this policy has a price. Turkey’s economy is collapsing; its relationship with the U.S. is in a state of ongoing crisis; and it has been left without any friends in the region. This is why Erdogan is trying to repair the damage.

Nevertheless, Erdogan remains an unpredictable politician. . . . We just need to be cognizant of the limits of this relationship.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israeli Security, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf