Israel-Turkey Relaunch Defense, Security Ties

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Thursday that official defense ties with Ankara will gradually return as relations between Turkey and Israel warm.

Israel-Turkey Relaunch Defense, Security Ties
Image credit: Israel's Defense Ministry [via The Times of Israel]

Facts

  • Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Thursday that official defense ties with Ankara will gradually return as relations between Turkey and Israel warm.
  • This new era comes with Gantz's one-day trip to Turkey, the first visit by an Israeli defense minister after a decade-long rupture, and two months after Ankara and Tel Aviv agreed to restore full diplomatic ties including reappointing ambassadors and consuls general.
  • Gantz stated that the visit has "opened the doors for potential cooperation in the field of security" following talks with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar and a meeting with Turkish Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
  • The countries share strategic interests, including containing Iranian influence and promoting regional peace and stability. Earlier this year, covert intelligence cooperation between the two nations succeeded in removing threats against Jewish people in Turkey.
  • Israel and Turkey used to be close regional allies with broad defense ties but their relationship deteriorated over Israel’s policies toward Palestinians and Turkey’s ties to Hamas. It broke down completely in 2010 after nine Turkish activists died when Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla that breached an Israeli blockade.
  • After failed attempts at mending ties from 2016 to 2018, relations began to thaw following the departure of former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sources: Haaretz, Daily Sabah, Hurriyet Daily, Washington Post, ABC, and Al Jazeera.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Atalayar. Restoring defense ties between Israel and Turkey is in the best interest of both countries and will improve overall stability in the region. In particular, this move will help reduce the influence of terrorist groups such as Hamas and address concerns about Iran by strengthening Israel's position as a strategic player in the region.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Atlantic Council. This may benefit both nations, but it's especially a win for Turkey, who's becoming increasingly isolated in its neighborhood and facing strained ties with the US - Ankara needs a fresh start with Israel. As relations normalize between Israel and other Arab states, Turkey can't risk being left behind.
  • Narrative C, as provided by FPRI. Gantz's visit this week and the restoration of defense ties is a step in the right direction, but it will take much more than that to fully restore the relationship between Israel and Turkey. Erdoğan will need to secure serious concessions from Israel if he wants to make these changes acceptable to his supporters while Tel Aviv is unlikely to concede much ahead of the 2023 Turkish presidential elections.
  • Cynical narrative, as provided by Orient XXI. Israeli-Turkish relations became strained after Ankara opportunistically pursued the role of protector of the rights of Palestinians to increase its popularity at home and in the Muslim world. Now that domestic and regional circumstances have changed and instability has become the main issue in the Middle East, Ankara is restoring ties with Israel — another policy prompted by an attempt to win public sentiment.