ANKARA: Turkey has informed Israel that it is set to appoint an ambassador to Tel Aviv once Israel agrees to make the gesture simultaneously, according to a media report.
The Israel Hayom newspaper, citing a senior Turkish official, made the statement on Monday. Turkey has not confirmed the report.
Analysts said that after a decade of deteriorating bilateral relations, especially after the Mavi Marmara incident when Israeli commandos boarded an aid flotilla ship in Gaza and Turkish militants are dead, the two sides should restore trust with each other through concrete and sincere steps. , rather than immediately waiting for the red carpet treatment.
On the Turkish side, any diplomatic reconciliation with Israel would attempt to break its regional isolation and would also please the administration of US President Joe Biden.
However, the presence of senior Hamas officials in Turkey remains the main stumbling block in any rapprochement between the two countries.
Hamas’s office in Istanbul, seen as a safe haven for senior group officials, is reportedly headed by the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement. The group is said to have set up a secret facility in Istanbul to carry out cyber attacks against Israel.
Turkey’s hosting of a high-level Hamas delegation last year was also condemned by Washington, DC.
But, since December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has toned down the rhetoric and hinted at Turkey’s willingness to reestablish ties with Israel. He publicly stated that the cooperation of the Israeli and Turkish intelligence services continues.
“Ankara had already expressed its wish to improve relations with Israel a few months ago, but Israel’s response to Turkey’s overtures has been quite low-key,” said Gallia Lindenstrauss, senior researcher at the Institute. studies on national security in Israel, to Arab News. “It seems that Turkey is losing patience and wishes to move forward in the direction of the return of the ambassadors immediately to break some of its isolation on the diplomatic front.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is expected to begin consultations with party representatives elected to the Knesset to begin the process of forming a new government, following the recent elections. But there is always the possibility of a fifth election in a two-year period.
Lindenstrauss added that there was no major obstacle to the ambassadors returning to Tel Aviv and Ankara because relations had not been officially demoted in 2018. It was, she said, a problem that could theoretically be put forward even with an interim government in Israel if a professional diplomat was chosen.
On March 20, some Istanbul-based TV channels affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood – El Sharq TV, Watan TV, Mekameleen – were ordered by Ankara to stop broadcasting anti-Egyptian speeches in their political broadcasts, for lack of what penalties would be imposed.
The move to cut the Muslim Brotherhood’s shackles could be seen as yet another message of reconciliation with Israel if Turkey also commits to responding to Israel’s demands in this area and removing some senior Hamas leaders living in Turkey.
“Regarding Hamas activity, Ankara has also signaled that it is less tolerant of the movement’s military activity on its soil and therefore is moving in the right direction on this issue from Israel’s point of view,” Lindenstrauss said.
During a visit to Cyprus in early March, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said Tel Aviv was ready to cooperate with Turkey on natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean and expressed hope that Ankara could join the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in the future.
But last week Turkey’s foreign ministry issued a harsh statement on “recent Israeli evacuation, destruction and confiscation decisions against the Palestinians” in violation of international law. He also urged the international community to stand with the Palestinian people against Israel’s expansionist policies.
“Turkey recently launched a charm offensive to restore relations with countries in the region, including Israel and Egypt,” Dr Selin Nasi, the London representative of the Ankara Policy Center, told Arab News. “While Israel has greeted Turkey’s overtures with skepticism, it nevertheless leaves the door open for negotiations.”
Nasi said Ankara could also take steps to reassure Israel’s security concerns, such as limiting the activities of Hamas offices operating in Turkish territory or expelling senior Hamas officials, as Turkey did before it. standardization agreement with Israel in 2016.
“Turkey and Israel have converging interests in regional security, trade relations and energy cooperation. However, Israel is in no rush to reestablish relations with Turkey, as it has gained an advantageous position in the Middle East, at Turkey’s expense, in the post-Abrahamic security landscape. “
Nasi also said that Turkey may have stepped up its normalization efforts with Israel following news reports that Biden would label the 1915 massacre of Armenians as “genocide” on the upcoming April 24 anniversary.
“Turkey may hope to regain the support of the Israeli lobbies in the US Congress in this regard. In this context, Israel is likely to pose Turkey’s recalibrating ties with Hamas as a condition of normalization.
Turkey recalled its ambassador in 2018 but did not lower the level of diplomatic representation, she explained, and dismissing ambassadors was a technical matter. Now that the elections were over, Israel’s domestic political environment provided a more conducive environment for Ankara’s normalization efforts.
“Yet, given the bad blood between the two leaders, a change of government in Israel would allow Erdogan to take the first step in re-establishing ties with Israel,” Nasi said.