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Israel should beware of Turkey – editorial

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Turkey is once again rolling out media accounts of “reconciliation” with Israel. Turkey’s latest attempt to influence media accounts of this so-called reconciliation were reports in Turkish and Israeli media suggesting that an ambassadorial exchange may be in the air. However, a representative of the Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Turkey had not asked Israel to accept an exchange of ambassadors.

This is not the first time Turkey has done this under the ruling AK Party and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In spring 2020, Turkey said it wanted reconciliation at a time when France, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates condemned all Turkish threats in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s attempt to push for a largely mythical reconciliation was underpinned by Ankara’s attempt to block an Israel-Greece-Cyprus gas pipeline deal and prevent Israel from joining the Eastern Mediterranean gas forum.

Turkey has again asserted that it wants reconciliation after US President Donald Trump lost his election last year. Turkey’s Erdogan was close to Trump and got the United States to allow Turkey to invade and ethnically cleanse the Kurds in Syria. Turkey has used the Trump administration to threaten NATO allies, harass France, encourage Islamist extremism, and send mercenaries to Libya and Syria. The loss of Trump led Turkey to decide that the only way to reduce an emerging Israel-Greece-UAE-Egypt alliance was to try to isolate Israel from its new friends. Turkey had even threatened to sever relations with the UAE if Abu Dhabi normalized relations with Israel. How can a country claim to want normalization with Israel at the same time as it tries to isolate Israel and ruin Israel’s friendships with Greece, Cyprus and the UAE?

This is why Israel should always be wary of press articles – usually transmitted to the media at the highest levels in Ankara – about reconciliation. Turkey’s sole objective under Erdogan over the past decade has been to isolate Israel and empower Hamas terrorists and enemies of Israel. Turkey has done this quietly by funding Islamic organizations and trying to take the lead in anti-Israel voices around the world. Even as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf moderated and rapidly improved their relations with Israel, Turkey has become a leader – along with Iran – in anti-Israel propaganda. Hamas’s reception included terrorist plots originating in Turkey. Turkish Erdogan compared Israel to Nazi Germany on numerous occasions, a mixture of genocidal anti-Semitism that has no place in international relations.

Erdogan must make amends for calling Israel a Nazi country if Ankara ever hopes to improve relations. Ankara must also expel members of Hamas and stop flirting with extremist anti-Israel groups, whether those groups are in Iran or Gaza. Turkey’s drift towards Iran is worrying for the region. He prefers to work with Iran and Russia to discuss Syria rather than the United States. This despite the Ankara media sometimes claiming that Turkey might be willing to work with Israel against Iran.

The real agenda of the Turkish regime was exposed in an article by the Turkish Radio and Television Company, which reflects the thinking of the Turkish government. In it, the author denied that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and asserted that “Israel needs Turkey” and that Israel must “compromise”. Turkey never has to compromise. Turkey never does anything for Israel. This is the real program. Turkey wants Israel to beg and come to Ankara with its knees bent, and this attitude has always underpinned Ankara’s recent treatment of Israel. He thinks he can host Hamas terrorists, organize Israeli assassination plans, give a red carpet to Hamas commanders with blood on their hands, who are greeted with hugs by Erdogan, and also threaten Gulf countries against normalization with Israel, try to destroy Israel’s ties with Greece and Cyprus, then order Israel to “compromise.”

The Israeli government has a long history of such abuses by Turkey and no evidence that Turkey is doing anything to mend the ties. Turkey could start by declaring that Israel is not like Nazi Germany. Otherwise, there is nothing to say.

Israel has friends in the Gulf who exemplify what true alliances look like, appointing ambassadors and teaching tolerance and interfaith respect. Turkey can learn from them.



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