Monday, 26 Sep 2022 - 1 of Tishri, 5783

Israel and Turkey to restore full diplomatic relations, exchange ambassadors

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Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who visited Ankara last March and met with his Turkish counterpart, commended the renewal of full diplomatic relations with Türkey which he called ‘’an important development that we’ve been leading for the past year, which will encourage greater economic relations, mutual tourism, and friendship between the Israeli and Turkish peoples.

Israel and Turkey are to restore full diplomatic relations, including the exchange of ambassadors,  following a recent phone conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The resumption of relations with Türkey is an important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for the citizens of Israel. We will continue to strengthen Israel’s standing in the world,” said Lapid in a statement.

Lapid’s office said that the move follows the understandings reached during the Israeli Prime Minister’s meeting in Ankara with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlot Çavuşoğlu and Prime Minister Lapid’s conversation with Turkish President Erdoğan, as well as the positive developments in Israel-Türkiye ties over the past year.

It was decided to once again upgrade the level of the relations between the two countries to that of full diplomatic ties and to return ambassadors and consuls general from the two countries.

Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability, the statement said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who visited Ankara last March and met with his Turkish counterpart, commended the renewal of full diplomatic relations with Türkey which he called ‘’an important development that we’ve been leading for the past year, which will encourage greater economic relations, mutual tourism, and friendship between the Israeli and Turkish peoples. Good neighborly relations and the spirit of partnership in the Middle East are important for us all. Members of all faiths—Muslims, Jews, and Christians an and must live together in peace.”

Turkey is Israel’s fourth-most important economic partner and in 2021 was Israel’s fifth-largest export destination. Since May 1, 1997, the two countries have enjoyed a free-trade agreement and held four joint economic summits. The last summit took place in Jerusalem in the summer of 2009, and the fifth is expected to be held this coming autumn.

According to the Israeli ministry of Economy’s foreign trade administration, bilateral trade in goods and services amounted to $7.7 billion in 2021. In that year, Israel exported $1.9 billion worth of goods to Turkey—mainly chemicals, base metals, rubber and plastic. Israel’s main imports from Turkey include base metals, machinery and electronic and mechanical parts, transportation components, and fresh agricultural produce.

In June, Israel and Turkey signed a civil aviation agreement as part of a deal to broaden bilateral ties. And earlier this summer, intelligence cooperation between Jerusalem and Ankara resulted in the thwarting of several Iranian plots to attack Israeli targets on Turkish soil. Turkey also took steps to curtail the movements of Hamas within the country.

The diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries has been slow-in-the-making since relations took a nosedive in the wake of the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident. At the time, nine Turkish nationals were killed in clashes that broke out after Israeli commandos were attacked when boarding a ship sent by an Islamist organization deemed close to Erdoğan that was attempting to break the maritime blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Dr. Gokhan Cinkara, an expert from Necmettin Erbakan University, thinks that shifts in regional geopolitics are the main determinants for Turkey’s new efforts for normalization. “The competition between status quo and revisionism in the region is over. Consequently, every country has alternatives and can be replaced, which is also the case for Turkey. Due to the economic crisis and geopolitical deadlock that the country is passing through, it was inevitable for Turkey to search for new options,” he told Arab News.

“The appointment of diplomats will ensure that bilateral relations will continue to operate under an institutional routine.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters on Wednesday that “we are not giving up on the Palestinian cause,” despite the upgrade in ties with Israel.

The return of ambassadors “is important to improving bilateral ties. As we have always said, we will continue to defend the rights of Palestinian,” he added.

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