Berk Anil Unal
MSc. Architect

Türkiye-Israel relations in Erdogan’s new term

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, at left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a press conference in Ankara on March 9, 2022 / YAVUZ OZDEN/GETTY IMAGES
Israeli President Isaac Herzog, at left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a press conference in Ankara on March 9, 2022 / YAVUZ OZDEN/GETTY IMAGES

Regarding regional cooperation and power-sharing, Turkey-Israel relations in Erdogan’s new era can be evaluated. The relationship between the two countries, in which we have witnessed many complex transitions in recent years, has been strained and damaged, mainly due to the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2009 and the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.

The Israel-Turkey relations, which entered a rapid recovery process following President Herzog’s visit to Turkey last year, can be considered a milestone. The reactivation of the embassy after a long process clearly indicates the desire to forget the tension that occurred. It is also worth emphasizing that as we approach the third year of the Abraham Accords, it shows Israel’s desire for a new era with Turkey and other countries in the region.

Turkey and Israel, among the most important countries with strategic positions in the Middle East, should always strive to enhance their cooperation to ensure regional security and consolidate various crises. The continuation of dialogue between the two countries, the reduction of tensions, and the establishment of stability are fundamental pillars for the development of the two countries and regional development. Cooperation between Turkey and Israel in counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and intelligence is crucial. Security should be considered a significant category for stable collaboration between these countries. For example, Israel and Turkey have found a common strategic ground in northern Syria and set a concrete example. Likewise, their firm stance alongside Azerbaijan during the Karabakh War is another tangible example of shared interests. Furthermore, Israel was one of the first countries to aid Turkey in the devastating earthquakes known as the February 6 Earthquakes, which occurred in southern Turkey recently, and its significant dedication in this regard is an event that Turkey should not forget.

There are economic collaborations between Turkey and Israel. Comprehensive economic benefits can be achieved by increasing the trade volume and investments between the two regions. Cooperation in services such as energy, tourism, agriculture, and technology mainly provides a perspective that looks towards the future.

The Palestinian issue is an essential factor in the relations between Turkey and Israel. Turkey is known for supporting Palestine and its defence of the Palestinian people. However, recently, the remarks made by Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to China regarding East Turkestan have somewhat strained this support, even among the public. It is hoped that Turkey does not go to extremes regarding the Palestinian issue and adopts a pragmatic approach to its relations with Israel. It should be noted that most Turkish people do not hold a radical view on the Palestinian issue. Furthermore, the perspective of South Azerbaijan and the opening of the Zangezur corridor, which connects the mainland of Azerbaijan with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, present a significant advantage for Turkey in creating friendship relations and building regional power potential. Nakhchivan, located above Armenia, acts as a tournament for the rest of Azerbaijan. Therefore, the connection between Nakhchivan and Azerbaijan holds great importance. This corridor will facilitate Nakhchivan’s access to Turkish geography and integrate and expand the region’s economic, political, and cultural boundaries.

The EastMed Project and Blue Homeland Doctrine represent agreements made by the two countries with different nations and express their strategic goals regarding competent maritime consumption, security, and access to energy resources. The EastMed Project includes a natural gas pipeline system that aims to extract, transport, and store natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean. The main objective of this project was to utilize and transport the natural gas distributions in the Mediterranean between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece through cooperation and reach of Europe. However, due to the withdrawal of US support for the project, a decision was made to terminate it. In recent years, Israel has aimed to fill the gap left by the embargo on Russian gas in the region with the discoveries of its natural gas deposits. Following the agreement signed between Libya and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, gas exploration efforts are ongoing to meet Turkey’s energy needs, which is the most significant component of its current account deficit. The Blue Homeland Doctrine, on the other hand, is a strategy focused on Turkey’s competent maritime usage and security. Turkey aims to protect the benefits of its seas, including its coastline, exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf. The Blue Homeland Doctrine seeks to increase Turkey’s naval power, defend its strategic deployments in the seas, and emphasize active participation in maritime security in the region.

Both concepts aim to safeguard the countries’ strategic interests in their seas and ensure access to energy resources. These concepts have been shaped by considering Turkey’s geopolitical position, maritime jurisdiction, and regional security dynamics. However, these strategies have caused tensions and strains among other regional actors, such as Greece/Southern Cyprus. Therefore, regional cooperation and diplomatic efforts are essential for promptly resolving maritime security issues and access to energy resources for Israel and Turkey.

In conclusion, it is hoped that Erdogan will significantly enhance the good relations with Israel during his last five-year term and strengthen the friendship between the two countries. Sustaining this cooperation between the two most important countries in the Middle East will also be crucial from a regional perspective. Additionally, Turkey standing alongside Israel, led by Erdogan, considered as the most influential Muslim leader, will contribute to reducing antisemitism worldwide.

About the Author
Berk Anil Unal, a master architect based in Türkiye, is widely recognized for his expertise in smart cities, minimalist homes, and urban planning. He has also made investments in the energy and technology sectors. His insights and statements have been featured in numerous prominent media outlets in Türkiye, and he has actively participated in various important non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, he has conducted research and engaged in projects concerning Türkiyr and Middle Eastern politics.
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