The Israeli president Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara this week is not the first time Turkey and Israel have attempted reconciliation. While those previous efforts achieved little, Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak sees reason for cautious optimism for the simple reason that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Islamist Turkish president who bears the brunt of responsibility for the rupture, now genuinely desires rapprochement. Playing a key role in this shift is the United Arab Emirates, which, like the Jewish state, takes umbrage at Erdogan’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas.
Facing the erosion of the Turkish lira and the lack of foreign investors, Ankara was forced last November to normalize its relations with the United Arab Emirates. The emirates, recognizing Ankara’s economic weakness, were quick to announce a $10 billion investment in the Turkish market. In doing so, Abu Dhabi in effect procured the turning point in Turkish foreign policy towards it—and demanded that Ankara abandon its contrarian foreign policy, which also contradicts the spirit of the Abraham Accords.
Over the last two weeks, Turkey, like other countries, has been appalled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This made it appreciate the fact it is part of the NATO alliance, of which it was dismissive in the past. The war in Ukraine will probably see Ankara return to the traditional pro-Western foreign policy we saw during the cold war.
These circumstances mean that this is the first time in the history of bilateral relations that Israel has the upper hand. This means that Jerusalem must make the most of this momentum while not relenting on principles such as demanding that Hamas terrorists be expelled from Turkey. We must also make it clear to Erdogan that Jerusalem is closely monitoring the aggressive, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel public discourse in Turkey, and any attempt to delegitimize Israel will be considered a serious breach of trust between the two countries.