Turkish-Israel Normalization Is Good News for the U.S.

Aug. 30 2022

Two weeks ago, Jerusalem and Ankara announced the resumption of full diplomatic ties, which were severed in 2018. Brenda Shaffer examines the rapprochement from an American perspective:

Washington stands to gain by having two of its regional allies end a yearslong discord in the strategically important east Mediterranean basin, which is a flashpoint of strategic competition between the United States and Russia. Most of the countries around the east Mediterranean basin are U.S. allies, and thus it is in Washington’s strategic interest when its allies work together. Reduced tensions between Turkey and Israel also mean and that Washington does not need to waste time mitigating a conflict between its allies.

The change in relations between Turkey and Israel is also likely to project onto the situation in Syria—where both seek stability given their borders with that country. Both Israel and Ankara would like to see Iranian military units removed from Syria, or at least a reduced presence. Iran is clearly unhappy about the open cooperation between Turkey and Israel.

In contrast, Azerbaijan’s strategic situation is greatly improved by the reconciliation of its two closest allies. President Ilham Aliyev played a major role in the normalization process. Turkish-Israeli cooperation before and during the 2020 Azerbaijan-Armenia war also contributed to the return of cooperative relations between Ankara and Jerusalem. Azerbaijan’s triumph in the war represented a knockout victory for Western arms technology in the clash between Russian-produced systems used by Armenia, on one hand, and those of the NATO member Turkey and the U.S. ally Israel, on the other.

Read more at Atlantic Council

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israel diplomacy, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad