Relations between Israel and Turkey could be on the verge of a breakthrough, with a Turkish presidential adviser confirming bilateral talks and that full diplomatic relations could be restored by March. Relations between the once close allies all but collapsed with Turkey withdrawing its ambassador in 2017, amid escalating tensions.
“If Israel comes one step, Turkey maybe can come two steps,” the Turkish presidential adviser on foreign affairs, Mesut Casin, said in reference to ongoing talks with Israel.
“If we see a green light, Turkey will open the embassy again and return our ambassador. Maybe in March, we can restore full diplomatic relations again. Why not.”
“Establishing peace and security is very important to Israel and Turkey. After Mavi Marmara, we don’t want another accident with Israel,” added Casin.
The Mavi Marmara was the largest of six vessels in a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians back in 2010. Pro-Palestinian activists seeking to break Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip were on board when Israeli forces stormed the vessel, killing nine Turkish nationals.
Since then, Turkish-Israeli relations have never fully recovered despite intense mediating efforts by the United States to rebuild ties between its two key regional allies.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and Israeli security forces’ crackdown on Palestinian protests saw Turkey and Israel withdrawing their ambassadors.
Casin acknowledged the election of Joe Biden to the U.S. presidency as a boost to efforts to repair ties. “There are new perspectives with Biden; a lot of things will change,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan enjoyed a close relationship with Trump, but a Biden presidency is predicted to be more challenging for Ankara.
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