Following the US-brokered reconciliation between Israel and Turkey last week, officials on both sides have cooperation in sight, though improvements in relations will probably progress by baby steps. The FT reports on the early rewards of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s apology to the Turks:
[A] Turkish official said the instability in Syria was not the primary reason on Ankara’s part, arguing that Mr Erdogan had long been ready to accept an apology. But he added: “Now that we are in the process of normalisation, we are going to open channels of information more easily; of course it will help our intelligence officials get in touch with each other.”
The Turkish official also argued that the reconciliation also made a possible gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey a “much more viable” idea.…
“The obstacle was not the private sector but the relations between the governments,” said the Turkish official. “I don’t think Turkey will come out against this now . . . We want to be an energy hub.”
The US would be another beneficiary of this potential détente. With little going our way in the Middle East, frosty relations between our two strongest allies in the region have been a headache. If Turkey and Israel were to cooperate on issues related to Syria and Iran, the US could focus more on containing those raging wildfires than on managing relations between the firefighters.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan doesn’t much like Israel. But the prospect of an energy alliance and a strategic partnership to navigate the region’s troublesome conflicts might be too beneficial to resist. And Israel is likely willing to tolerate some anti-Israel rhetoric in public if relations with a crucial government are strong in private.
[Israeli/Turkish flags image courtesy of Shutterstock.com]