Turkey continues to feed stories to media outlets about wanting reconciliation with Israel. It is a reconciliation built on three pillars.
First, appointing an anti-Israel envoy to Israel who has accused Zionism of being racist and accused Israel of massacres. Second, Turkey demands that Israel ruin relations with Greece, Cyprus and the UAE, isolate itself and become dependent on Ankara for energy trade, betraying Israel’s new Gulf and Mediterranean friends. Third, Turkey wants to see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lose the next election.
This is the “reconciliation” that reads more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing than normal state-to-state relations.
Even though Turkey has a regime that jails opposition politicians for decades and has made almost all media in Turkey toe the government line, foreign media are still willing to take Ankara’s spin at face value. Instead of questioning regime stories about “reconciliation” with Israel, one after another media outlet has printed this story without even looking at the text of the “reconciliation” that Ankara has proposed to Israel.
The spin continued this week, for the third week in a row, as Ankara keeps talking about better relations with Israel. But Ankara’s government, led by the ruling AKP Party, hosts Hamas terrorists, and it destroyed relations with Israel.
This began around a decade ago when Turkey slammed Israel for the 2009 war in Gaza. Instead of condemning Hamas terrorist rockets, Ankara blamed Israel. Turkey also then mobilized Muslim Brotherhood-connected activists to sail to Gaza, creating another crisis.
Since then, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has frequently compared Israel to Nazi Germany and hosted Hamas as if it is a legitimate government; the same Turkish regime that complains about “terrorism” among Kurdish dissidents hosts terrorists.
Ankara has become one of the most anti-Israel countries in the world in recent years, vowing to “liberate” al-Aqsa Mosque and retake Jerusalem, terminology that Ankara’s leadership shares with Iran.
TURKEY REALIZED that its “reconciliation” talk plays well to Western media and makes it seem peaceful and moderate. It likely got this advice from some of its lobbyists in Washington.
The team around Erdogan is intensely hostile to Israel. Normal countries don’t refer to other countries as Nazis, but Turkey has felt that this language is acceptable. It knows all too well that these “Nazi” accusations are supposed to turn the victims of the Nazis into the perpetrators, a form of antisemitism. Ankara, which doesn’t even mourn the actual Holocaust, is quick to use the Holocaust against Israel.
And yet the same government that penned these speeches at the UN, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, expects its “reconciliation” talk to be taken seriously. Turkey hosted Hamas senior terrorist leaders more often this year than ever in history – so often that even the US State Department finally condemned Ankara.
The reconciliation narrative began with maps that Turkey sought to push to Israeli media that show Turkey and Israel sharing a maritime border, which they do not. Ankara wants to ignore Cyprus and try to impose gas claims off the coast, much as it has done with Greece.
Turkey’s goal here is to try to get Israel to stop working on a pipeline agreement with Greece and Cyprus and reroute efforts to Turkey. This is designed not to “reconcile” with Israel but to sabotage deals between Athens, Nicosia and Jerusalem.
Turkey knows the UAE is doing more joint work with Greece and wants to harm Israel’s new relations with the Emirates. Ankara is so angry at Israel-UAE relations that it threatened to break relations with the Emirates. Ankara’s only end goal is to isolate Israel –and use the dangling of “reconciliation” as a way to do it.
THE LATEST news from Turkey is that it wants reconciliation and blames Netanyahu for the bad relations. This is a new attempt to meddle in Israel’s internal politics. It would be tantamount to Israel saying Jerusalem wants reconciliation, and the problem is that Erdogan is in charge.
Turkey has long tried to tell Israeli journalists that if only Netanyahu will be replaced, then the two countries can get along. This unprecedented attempt to insert Turkey into Israel’s domestic politics has a parallel in the US, where Turkey tried to ingratiate itself with Trump’s inner circle in 2016 and 2017.
Ankara has decided that meddling in the internal affairs of other countries is normal. It has also suggested that France oppose its own president, Emmanuel Macron. Rarely throughout history do countries try to undermine other countries by suggesting who they should choose as their leaders. That is more the talk of a colonial overlord than a country that views another one as an equal.
In this respect, Ankara indicates to Jerusalem that it sees Israel as a secondary country, not an equal. The entire narrative presented about reconciliation is in line with this goal: Isolate Israel, undermine Israel’s sovereignty, support Hamas terrorists and make Israel dependent on Turkey.
Under such conditions, it is not surprising that Israel has shown little interest in this. The final insult was appointing a new envoy to Israel who is known for accusing the Jewish state of massacres and displacing “millions.” Countries that want friendly relations usually do not appoint an ambassador known for hating the other country.