Turkey-Israel crisis: Erdogan wants co-op, what about Netanyahu?

Turkey-Israel crisis: Erdogan wants co-op, what about Netanyahu?

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec.16

By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:

In order for real progress to take place between Israel and Turkey, a solution must be found to the crisis, following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, Nimrod Goren, Founder and Chairman of Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies told Trend.

Relations between Israel and Turkey sharply deteriorated after an Israeli special mission unit seized the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was included into the so-called Freedom Flotilla moving into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Nine participants of the voyage were killed, dozens were injured, while hundreds found themselves behind bars and later deported. Israel insists that its military acted in self-defence. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel should apologize for the Freedom Flotilla incident, pay compensation to the families of those killed and end the blockade of the Gaza Strip as a precondition for normalization of relations with Turkey.

Goren noted that the conditions for reconciliation that Turkey has introduced had been subject to negotiations during the past 5 years, and understanding had been reached. In 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered an apology, and in 2014 negotiators from both countries agreed on an amount for compensation, and on formulas to solve the Turkish demand regarding Gaza without lifting the Israeli blockade.

"So, technically - solution could be found, and has already been. At the moment, an agreement depends on political will. It seems that Erdogan is interested in moving forward. It is now up to Netanyahu to show if Israel also has the will," the expert said.

He noted that one of the sensitivities for Israel, is how to move forward with Turkey without jeopardizing Israel's good relations with Egypt, Cyprus and Greece - all countries with which Turkey has problems with.

"Israel needs to put into place a win-win policy in the eastern Mediterranean, and not a zero-sum one. This is not an easy task given recent regional dynamics, but is an important goal to achieve," Goren said.

The expert noted that 2015 Israeli foreign policy index of the Mitvim Institute showed that the Israeli public is not pleased with the current state of relations with Turkey. According to the poll, only 23 percent of the Israeli public thinks that Israel has no reason to mend ties with Turkey.

Meanwhile 44 percent of Israelis sees prospects for security cooperation between Israel and Turkey (regarding Syria and IS) as the primary reason to mend ties.

After the deterioration of relations between Turkey and Russia, some Turkish media outlets reported that Turkey and Israel will resume their previous relations. Further, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed talks between Turkey and Israel.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu said there are possibilities for export and transit deliveries of Israeli gas to Turkey, and said this is a factor that can "change relations between the two countries."

Goren noted that the growing involvement of Russia in Syria has been a sign of concern for Turkey from day one and some in Turkey thought that Israel may share the same concern. After the downing of the Russian plane, Turkey's interest in reaching out to Israel has increased, also due to a will to cooperate on natural gas issues.

"This is not a sudden change of Turkish policy, but rather is a continuation of a slow and gradual process taking place over recent months between both countries, with an attempt to rebuild trust and broaden the dialogue," the expert said.

However, he noted that Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear that Israel's policy is to find common ground with Putin.

Edited by SI

Follow the author on Twitter: @E_Kosolapova

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