After a hiatus of several years of friction between Turkey and Israel, finally it seems that a rapprochement has been reached. A preliminary agreement has been negotiated to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The schism came about because Pres. Erdogan (then PM) of Turkey adopted a high-handed, pro-Islamist attitude towards Israel and demanded that Israel drop its legitimate sea blockade of Gaza, that is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization which is at war with Israel. But, when the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara tried to forcibly break the blockade and the Turks aboard deliberately provoked violence and 9 of them were killed by Israeli forces, Erdogan demanded an apology from Israel! Then after some months of negotiations Israel agreed to pay compensation to the families of those killed and apologized. But, Erdogan still refused to deal with Israel and continued to lie and voice Islamic propaganda against Israel.
Now however he seems to have changed his mind. Why? It’s quite easy to see the reasons, because since then Turkey foolishly shot down a Russian plane that they claimed entered their territory. And this has resulted in harsh economic consequences for Turkey, the cessation of trade and tourism from Russia. Also, recently Iraq demanded that Turkey remove its military forces that are in Iraq without its request or permission. Although these forces are ostensibly there to fight the Islamic State near Mosul, it is quite clear that this is a smokescreen and they are in fact there to fight the Iraqi Kurdish forces that are making gains against the IS in that region. Also, there is a minor uprising in the eastern Kurdish regions of Turkey, where strong armed forces are deployed. So Turkey is on the back foot and has no allies in the region and is not getting support from the US Obama Administration. It is at this point that Erdogan has decided to re-seek an alliance with Israel.
There is another serious consideration. Israel now has major gas finds in the Mediterranean and they are about to be commercially exploited, and Turkey doesn’t want to be left out. The Israeli, Cypriot and Greek leaders are due to have an imminent meeting in Nicosia to make a gas deal. Turkey needs this energy and so it is in Turkey’s interests to return to good relations with Israel. It is also good for Israel to have good relations with a large Muslim country, even though Netanyahu trusts Erdogan about as far as he could throw him. Politics make strange bedfellows.