Can the repaired ties between Israel and Turkey usher in a new Middle East?

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Turkey TurkeyWhat can we anticipate from President Isaac Herzog’s unusual trip to Turkey, and can Israel put its faith in Erdogan? When President Isaac Herzog goes off to Turkey on Wednesday at the request of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he will become the first Israeli leader to visit Ankara since 2008.

What can we anticipate from the high-profile visit to Turkey, and what impact will improved relations between Ankara and Jerusalem have on the Middle East in general and Israel in particular? On Sunday, Dr. Alon Liel, a former ambassador to Turkey and director-general of the Foreign Ministry, spoke on 104.5FM to explain.

Courtship in Turkey

Erdogan has been “courting Israel for over a year now,” according to Liel, who has pushed for closer diplomatic relations with Israel in recent months. “For over a year, I’ve been seeing this ferocious Turkish courting… [Israel] clearly did not respond to this courting, in my opinion.”

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According to the former ambassador, Turkey’s increased interest in the Jewish state was regarded with a great degree of skepticism by Israel, to the point of “mutual hostility..we just did not believe Erdogan.” When Natali and Mordi Oaknin were arrested in Turkey for photographing Erdogan’s residence, it was the president’s diplomatic efforts with Erdogan that secured their release after a week in detention.

Herzog contacted Erdogan after the Israeli couple came home, expressing optimism for improved diplomatic relations between the two nations and thanking Erdogan “for his personal participation and contribution” in their release. Following the news that Erdogan had tested positive for COVID-19, Herzog contacted him for the third time in his brief presidency in February, wishing him a rapid recovery. “Herzog began to believe in the last few months… He persuaded the entire establishment to try it, and now we’re here.”

Erdogan committed a “series of regional, even global” errors, according to Liel. “As a result of his errors, he found himself isolated in his region.” “That regional isolation also had a negative impact on his economy,” the former ambassador stated, referring to the late-2021 Turkish economic crisis, when the Turkish currency hit a new low. “Erdogan felt compelled to break out from his solitude.” Following the news that Erdogan had tested positive for COVID-19, Herzog contacted him for the third time in his brief presidency in February, wishing him a rapid recovery.

Isolation by region

Erdogan committed a “series of regional, even global” errors, according to Liel. “As a result of his errors, he found himself isolated in his region.” “That regional isolation also had a negative impact on his economy,” the former ambassador stated, referring to the late-2021 Turkish economic crisis, when the Turkish currency hit a new low. “Erdogan felt compelled to break out from his solitude.”

Erdogan’s decision to open his country’s doors to Herzog was aided by Israel’s attempts to deepen cooperation with Middle East allies, including the signing of the Abraham Accords with countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, according to Liel. “With the Abraham Accords, Israel began to prosper on the regional stage at the same time Erdogan was slipping,” Liel observed.

“Erdogan understood that Turkey is lower on the Middle East pyramid than Israel. So he flung a rope in the hopes that it would be caught.” There’s nothing to lose. Is it possible for Israel to improve ties with Turkey by capitalizing on Erdogan and Herzog’s seeming friendship? Israel, according to Liel, has nothing to lose.

According to Liel, there are various areas where improvements might be done. “After all, Turkey is still a large nation in terms of economy.” “We can achieve our economic goals, and we can also achieve our goals in Syria,” Liel added. If Herzog’s visit rekindles warm ties between Israel and Turkey, it might have far-reaching diplomatic ramifications in the Middle East. “There’s a lot to be gained by persuading Turkey to join Israel’s side, which is opposed to the Iranian-Qatari axis,” Liel said. “I don’t believe we have anything to lose. We now have our hands on the tap in the current situation. We opened the tap after Erdogan courted us.” Israel will now put the Turkish romance to the test ahead of Herzog’s critical presidential visit. “We’ll turn off the tap if Erdogan fails to meet our expectations or maintain his promises.”

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