With national elections coming in less than two weeks, Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces perhaps the most serious electoral threat of his career as Turkey’s president. Although Erdogan’s hostility toward Israel has contributed to the decline in relations between the two countries, there is little reason to believe his successor will be any better. A new government might even set back the tenuous reconciliation between the two countries. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak writes:
The leader of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has managed to coalesce the six opposition parties and form the National Alliance. The various elements of the bloc have deep ideological divisions. . . . This is perhaps the “Anyone but Erdogan” coalition.
You could be forgiven for thinking Erdogan’s potential downfall would be good for Israel. But with the National Alliance including figures like former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Temel Karamollaoğlu, the head of the . . . main Islamic opposition party, it would be premature to say that the president’s departure would usher in improved ties between Jerusalem and Ankara. Davutoğlu has been fiercely opposed to the normalization with Israel and Karamollaoğlu wants to sever bilateral relations altogether.
In any event, a new Turkish leadership will not create a golden age for Turkey-Israel relations in the near term. In fact, the opposite may be true: Kılıçdaroğlu could try to rally his fragile coalition by burnishing his anti-Israel credentials. There are signs this is already happening. . . . Israel must be extra careful in its handling of the unpredictable new-old political players.