Why Turkey May at Last Be Ready to Mend Fences with Israel

March 11 2022

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.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Abraham Accords, Isaac Herzog, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount