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Diplomatic contacts between Turkey and Israel

Intelligence meetings are taking place between Turkish and Israeli delegations despite the breakdown of the relationship ten years ago
Combination of images of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

AFP/RONEN ZVULUN Y OZAN KOSE  -   Combination of images of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

A delegation from the Turkish intelligence service, led by Hakan Fidan, reportedly met with Israeli counterparts, according to Al-Monitor, to discuss issues related to the security environment in the region, especially with regard to the situation in Syria and Libya. These meetings have reportedly been held repeatedly in the recent past. However, according to the sources, the novelty with respect to this latest meeting is related to the possibility of resuming the contact lost in 2010, which included the withdrawal of the diplomatic representation of both countries.

On 31 May 2010 an incident took place between a group of boats carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip and Israeli naval forces. As a result of the clash, several activists of Turkish origin were killed, triggering a major protest from the international community and in particular from Turkey. The diplomatic clash caused an appeal to the respective diplomatic delegations and a breaking-off of relations. This rupture would also include the end of military collaboration, also in the field of defence industry.

Despite this cooling of relations, attempts are now being made to resume them by holding meetings between the two sides with a low profile, which is now seeking to rise. At this latest meeting, the possibility of having diplomatic representation in both countries again would have been considered, which would bring Ankara and Tel Aviv closer together. 

Even during the first wave of the coronavirus, both countries maintained contacts owing to Israel's need for healthcare material, which Turkey attempted to alleviate by sending protective material for its toilets. This gesture, which was well received in Israel, would have made possible the current meetings to re-establish relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv. However, it will be difficult to make the relationship between the two countries fully friendly, given Erdogan's attitude to many of the conflicts in the region and the ties he is forging with Teheran. The latter is of concern and much in Israel, which is engaged in an almost constant struggle with the military branch of Hezbollah along the Blue Line with Lebanon and with Hamas in the Palestinian territories, both groups being supported militarily and financially by Iran.