Why Turkey Is Trying to Charm Israel

On October 27, the Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz visited Turkey, in another sign of the thaw between the two counties that began in March. David May and Sinan Ciddi see this as a promising step, but caution against too much enthusiasm for the reconciliation between Jerusalem and Ankara, former long-times allies whose relations went from cool to hostile in the 21st century:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking a third term as president when he is arguably at his weakest politically. His unpopularity is mainly due to the country’s sluggish economy. [But] Erdogan’s position is also precarious due to increasing reliance on Russia since 2016 for energy security, weapons procurement, and Turkey’s “security” goals in Syria. Vladimir Putin’s isolation and toxicity following his invasion of Ukraine have forced Turkey to look elsewhere. . . . Turkey has expressed its willingness to reduce its dependence on Russia by helping pipe Israeli gas to Europe, but Turkey’s prospective deal is little more than a pipe dream.

Erdogan’s charm offensive with Israel signals that Turkey can turn on a dime and reduce its dependence on Moscow. In doing so, Erdogan continues to gesture to regional powers, such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey’s Western allies, that it remains relevant and, to a limited degree, can be an asset. Turkey’s brokering of a major grain-shipment deal from Ukraine that helped avert a world food shortage and the sale of TB2 drones to the Ukrainian military demonstrated its utility.

Israel has several interests in improved ties with Turkey, but the most direct one is inducing Turkey to expel Hamas. Beyond that, there is value in being on good terms with what is arguably the strongest military in the Middle East, a major energy rival, and a country that is operating in Syria, close to Israel.

The pillars of the Israel-Turkey relationship—energy and defense cooperation—require long-term agreements built on mutual trust, not Erdogan’s capricious vacillation between enmity and cooperation. Ejecting Hamas would be a good start, and the decrease in overt hostility is certainly positive, but Gantz’s visit is, at best, window dressing on a cold peace.

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Read more at National Interest

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Natural Gas, Turkey

 

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror