Turkey and Israel ‘will mend fences’

Turkish officials are predicting an imminent rapprochement between Ankara and Jerusalem. A senior official last week told the Turkish daily Zaman that he did “not see any political obstacle standing in the way of normalisation”.

This comes despite fury in Israel over Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks that the Jewish state was behind the military takeover in Egypt.

Ties between the two countries — once strategic allies — deteriorated following the 2008 Gaza operation and took a further nosedive three years ago following the deaths of nine Turkish activists during the boarding by Israeli naval commandos of the Gaza flotilla, which led to the downgrading of diplomatic relations.

In May, following US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Mr Erdogan and apologised for the Marmara incident but talks over compensation for the families have foundered. Nevertheless, there have been efforts to boost the relationship, including a visit by Mossad chief Tamir Pardo to Ankara.

These efforts were seen to be dashed last month when Mr Erdogan cited, as “evidence” of Israel of being behind the military takeover in Egypt, an anti-Muslim Brotherhood speech by French-Jewish philosopher Bernard Henri Levy at a conference two years ago.

The accusation drew angry condemnations from Egypt and the US and seemed to leave little hope for the relationship. However, at a time when Turkey is finding itself lacking allies in the region, in the wake of the Syrian civil war and the marginalisation of Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in Egypt, a rapprochement could make sense. A scheduled visit by Mr Erdogan to Gaza has for now been postponed indefinitely.

The two nations will need to co-ordinate actions in the event of an American strike on Syria, which borders both.

Last updated: 4:45pm, September 13 2013