March 22, 2013 | Policy Brief

Israeli Leader Apologizes to Turkey for Fatal Ship Raid

The New York Times – Read full story…

FDD Expert Analysis:

Turkey May Not Bite
Clifford D. MayPresident

Apologizing to Turkey should be seen as a concession by Prime Minister Netanyahu to President Obama because escalating tensions between Turkey, a NATO member, and Israel, America’s most reliable ally in the Middle East, is awkward for the United States. Turkey will be pleased by this gesture but it is unlikely to restore amicable relations between Turkey and Israel. The most important reason for this is that under the AKP party, Turkey aspires to be the leader of what it sees as the global Islamic Awakening. No Islamic-majority nation can compete for that role while having cordial relations with Israel.

Good Start, But Hurdles Remain
Jonathan SchanzerVice President for Research

Although the move is a welcome development which will ease some of the tensions between Israel and Turkey, there is a high likelihood that the relationship will remain strained. Turkey has become a top sponsor of Hamas which is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and continues to carry out violent attacks against Israel. It has also been involved in several Iran sanctions busting schemes and Iran is using those funds to support its nuclear program which Israel adamantly opposes. And Erdogan has made numerous statements in the past that have fractured whatever trust Israel had in Turkey. Most recently, he equated Zionism with Fascism. Such rhetoric makes a genuine rapprochement extremely problematic.

Can Erdogan Sell It at Home and Abroad?
Tony BadranResearch Fellow

It is actually a smart move. By calling Erdogan, Netanyahu has scored points with President Obama and has offered Erdogan a path to walk back to normalizing relations. If Erdogan continues to insist on further conditions, he will look bad while Netanyahu looks good on the world stage. In terms of regional dynamics, Turkey actually could use this, as its Policy of Zero Problems with its neighbors has collapsed.

Normalizing relations would make sense. The problem is whether it makes sense domestically for Erdogan to restore the relationship with Israel. It could only be a superficial reconciliation, leaving the possibility for tensions to easily flare again. However, the relationship could be redefined as “intelligence cooperation” in the shadows, while open political relations remain cool.

Past Commentary & Analysis on Turkey and Israel

The End of SyriaTony Badran – Now Lebanon

Middle East Tour d’Horizon – Clifford D. May – Scripps Howard News Service

Israel’s New Islamist Neighborhood – Reuel Marc Gerecht – The Wall Street Journal

Turkey’s Terror Finance Problem – Jonathan Schanzer – The Weekly Standard

Hamas Rising – Jonathan Schanzer – Foreign Policy


Israel Turkey