Transactional rapprochement: How Turkish-Israeli renewed cooperation took shape and will arguably evolve

  • Pietro Baldelli
    Researcher for the MENA desk at the Center for Geopolitical Studies “” - Rome
Foreign Policy & International Relations

Transactional rapprochement: How Turkish-Israeli renewed cooperation took shape and will arguably evolve

On August 17, 2022, after a phone call between then Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two countries announced the full restoration of diplomatic relations.[1] This decision ended the third degradation of bilateral relations, which began in May 2018, when Ankara decided to expel the Israeli ambassador following the clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators along the Gaza border.[2] As was the case many times in the past two decades, that year the Palestinian issue was the main point of friction between Israel and Turkey, which from time to time pushed Turkish President Erdogan to adopt a harsh stance against Israel, in accordance not just with the new post-Cold War Turkish foreign policy course under his leadership, but also with the ideological milieu of Erdogan’s AKP party and AKP-led government.[3] The Turkish-Israeli rapprochement came at the end of a lengthy negotiation that began in late 2020, when Turkish officials proved to be able to overcome the initial reticence of the Israeli counterparts, which at that time did not consider Turkey as a reliable partner, due to the aforementioned diplomatic crisis and the lack of confidence in Erdogan’s personal political leadership.[4]

Transactionalism as a useful analytical tool to disentangle Turkish-Israeli interactions

The dynamic of normalization between Israel and Turkey, which has been ongoing over the last two years, is difficult to properly decipher if compared to the harsh words uttered by Turkish President Erdogan in 2017, when he came to define Israel as a “terrorist state”.[5] Nowadays, those words are all but a distant memory, as well as the direct response given to that statement by the then (and now) prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who defined Erdogan as someone who “helps terrorists, including in Gaza, to kill innocent people.”[6] The contrasting tone of those statements to the new cooperative momentum undertaken in recent months in the bilateral relations of the two countries cannot be explained entirely by looking at solely the preferences or alternatively the biases of the political leaders – which do, of course, play a role to a certain extent. This reductionist approach can be overcome by looking at the recent Turkish-Israeli rapprochement through the lens of “transactionalism”, intended as a foreign policy approach. As formulated by Galib Bashirov and Ihsan Yilmaz, transactionalism can be defined as a foreign policy approach that “favors bilateral to multilateral relations, focuses on short-term wins rather than longer-term strategic foresight, adheres to a zero-sum worldview where all gains are relative and reciprocity is absent, rejects value-based policymaking, and does not follow a grand strategy.”[7] Therefore, by framing the bilateral interactions between the two countries through this analytical tool, what emerges is a relationship marked by ups and downs, great cooperation on specific dossiers and bitter confrontation on other issues, and phases of dialogue punctured by periods of crises.[8] Applying this paradigm to the analysis of the Turkish-Israeli rapprochement, it can be explained why and how the two actors are interested in making positive “transactions”, namely cooperating in a targeted manner on specific dossiers, without, however, claiming to resolve all existing and structural divergences.

Reasons behind the rapprochement

Before diving into the “transactions” that Israel and Turkey have already performed or expect to make in the near future, it is important to understand why the two countries decided to go back to the diplomatic table and how this process unfolded. First, at a regional level, the renewed dialogue between Israel and Turkey can be read within the framework of regional détente that has involved all major Middle Eastern countries over the last two years. Indeed, after the presidential election in the United States in late 2020, all the regional players started to preventively adapt their strategies to an expected change in American Middle Eastern policy.[9] If under Trump’s presidency regional players could benefit from the adoption of assertive foreign policy agendas within a divisive and confrontational regional environment, Biden’s election created a different ground on which investing in de-escalatory moves, normalization and reconciliation processes would bring more gains.

The Al-Ula declaration issued by GCC countries on January 5, 2021, was the first major outcome of this emerging trend, thanks to which the GCC blockade imposed against Qatar in 2017 ended.[10] Prior to that, the process started with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reaching out to Iran in 2020.[11] Afterwards, intensive diplomatic contacts kicked off between Egypt and Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran (through Iraqi mediation), Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Turkey and Egypt, and Turkey and the UAE. Within this scenario, Turkey began to signal its willingness to improve relations with Israel right after the Biden administration took office. In this context, the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and its negative consequences on secondary regions, such as the Middle East, further stimulated a greater deal of cooperation among regional actors in order to mitigate the instability originating from the war in Eastern Europe.

Second, alongside systemic considerations, the recent rapprochement between Israel and Turkey should be explained by taking into consideration particular factors related to the foreign agendas of the two countries. As in the past, the first input for a revival of diplomatic dialogue came from Ankara.[12] Since the end of 2020, Erdogan has attempted to change the assertive approach that had characterized Turkish regional policy in the previous four years. The process of regional integration between Israel and a number of Arab countries, ushered in by the signing of the Abraham Accords, made it worthwhile to attempt to engage Tel Aviv to break the diplomatic isolation suffered by Turkey in the previous years. Furthermore, a second bet by Erdogan should be taken into account: the attempt to convince the Israeli side to cooperate on the energy sector in light of the opportunity created by the European energy crisis and the need for European states to lower their dependence on Russia.[13] In this regard, the steady Turkish attempt to place itself as a regional energy hub should be recalled, as well as the endeavor to wedge itself into the Eastern Mediterranean energy cartel organized in the East Med Gas Forum (EMG), a Cairo-based international organization from which Turkey is excluded.[14]

On the other hand, Israel has confirmed a historical driver of its foreign policy, valid since its foundation in 1948, namely the willingness to push forward as many normalization processes as possible with its neighbors and, more broadly, with the main regional players. Signing peace treaties  and establishing strong and lively diplomatic relations with Middle Eastern countries means that Israel can shore up its status as a legitimate regional state while other countries like Iran, or non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah, attempt to wipe it off the map. This goal has even been rolled out among the four main national objectives of the Israel Defense Forces’ military doctrine, which states the goal of “strengthening the State of Israel’s international and regional status while striving toward peace with its neighbors.”[15]

Third, domestic factors on both sides helped to give momentum to the rapprochement. On the Turkish side, in view of  next year’s presidential elections, Erdogan needed to find fresh solutions to ease the Turkish economic crisis, which is notably marked by the severe devaluation of the Turkish currency.[16] Besides the newly reached agreements with former adversaries from the Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are injecting money into the Turkish central bank’s reserves,[17] approaching Israel could mean boosting the daily economy in sectors like tourism as well as relaunching valuable partnerships on infrastructure, connectivity and transportation. Turning to Israel, some changes of the guard in the political arena proved to be crucial, notably the swearing in of the government of national unity led by Naftali Bennett and even more so the election of Isaac Herzog as the new president of the Republic – both in June 2021 – with the latter, as it is argued later, playing  a pivotal role in approaching his Turkish counterpart.

Fourth, the breakthrough finally came following two unexpected and unpredictable events. The first was the negotiation in November 2021 to bring back to Israel two Israeli tourists who were arrested in Turkey, accused of espionage for photographing the presidential residence in Istanbul.[18] The second was the intelligence-level cooperation in June 2022 to thwart Iranian terrorist activities on Turkish soil where, according to the two countries, Tehran was attempting to perpetrate attacks against Israeli citizens.[19] The two events constituted confidence-building episodes that tested the reliability of each party.

How Israel and Turkey got back on track

The months prior to August 2022 were marked by several conciliatory steps, thanks to which the two sides managed to exchange views on issues of mutual interest and restore a shared sense of trustworthiness. Alongside the behind-the-scenes work of middle-rank diplomats, it is worth mentioning some public high-level contacts and meetings that took place between the political leadership of the two countries over the last year. In January 2022, there was the first publicly acknowledged phone call in thirteen years between the foreign ministers of the two countries, Yair Lapid and Mevlut Cavusoglu.[20] According to Lapid’s office, Cavusoglu called to inquire about the foreign minister’s health following his COVID-19 diagnosis. In March 2022, the Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, paid a visit to Turkey, the first visit by an Israeli president since 2007. At the invitation of the Turkish presidency, Herzog met with President Erdogan in Ankara, where the two leaders discussed ways to revitalize bilateral cooperation after years of grievances and tensions.[21]

In this regard, it is worth recalling the unusual diplomatic activism of President Herzog, who played a pivotal role in pushing forward the process of rapprochement with Ankara, notwithstanding the initial reluctance shown by other actors, including the prime minister’s office.[22] In this sense, the institutional symmetry between his office and the Turkish leader Erdogan helped to foster the first contact, as demonstrated by the call the Turkish president made in June 2021 to congratulate Herzog on his election. Had Herzog not undertaken this choreographing role, the normalization process would arguably not have taken off, given the weak political endorsement made by the then prime minister Bennett. The political fragility of the latter prompted him not to invest too much in the rapprochement with Ankara, since Turkey remains a highly divisive dossier in the Israeli domestic realm.

On the other hand, on the Turkish side, the internal balance between different offices and powers proved to be less influential in either fostering or countering the rapprochement, given the prominent role institutionally accorded to the president on foreign and security policy decision-making after the 2017 constitutional referendum.[23] Besides that, it has to be noted how the Kemalist-centered Turkish military – which, as of today, maintains a relevant political role that should not be overlooked – likely welcomed the normalization process with Israel, given the historical role they played during the Cold War and beyond in bolstering interactions with their Israeli counterparts within the context of their belonging to the Western camp – i.e., Turkey as a prominent member of the Atlantic Alliance and Israel as the greatest Middle Eastern ally of the United States.[24] Despite his Islamic-centered social background and political vision, many times Erdogan proved to be a pragmatic politician, eager to come to terms with the military in order to defuse possible opposition to its leadership. In fact, contrary to Erdogan’s view, Turkish armed forces have to be seen as the linchpin of Turkish secular republicanism.[25] Nevertheless, as in other occasions, a “green-Kemalist” compromise seems to have emerged on this dossier.

After the presidential-level early contacts, and during the following months, other prominent figures came on board, from the ministries of foreign affairs to the ministries of defense, as well as intelligence directors and their respective apparatuses. For instance, in May 2022, the Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu headed to Israel for the first official visit in fifteen years. During the meeting with his counterpart, Yair Lapid, the two agreed to resume the work of a joint economic committee and launch talks on a civil aviation agreement. In a balancing act, however, Cavusoglu first travelled to Ramallah, the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority (PA), where he met with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. During his stay in Jerusalem, the Turkish Foreign Minister also made a private visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City of Jerusalem.[26]

Finally, on August 17, 2022, the two countries announced full restoration of diplomatic relations. Ever since, there have been further major developments. On September 19, Israel appointed its charge d’affaires in Ankara, Irit Lillian, as the new ambassador to Turkey, while on October 7, Turkey named Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, formerly a Turkish consul-general in Jerusalem between 2010-2013, as its ambassador to Tel Aviv.[27] In the same month, on the sideline of the UN General Assembly, Lapid – who in the meantime had assumed the role of prime minister after Bennet’s resignation – met with Erdogan,[28] which represented the first meeting between an Israeli prime minister and Erdogan since 2008, when the Turkish leader met with Ehud Olmert as part of the indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria, brokered by Ankara.[29] During his visit to New York, Erdogan also held a meeting with the American Jewish community, to which he revealed his intention to visit Israel soon.[30] Then, in late October, the Israeli Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, went to Ankara, where he met with Erdogan and his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar.[31] Two months earlier, the head of the Political-Security Division at the Ministry of Defense, Dror Shalom, had already visited Turkey with the aim of reopening channels for defense ties between the two countries, though renewed cooperation on this front may have appeared more difficult at the outset.

First positive transactions: Civil aviation and tourism

Economic cooperation is what has mostly characterized Turkey-Israel relations in recent years. It is therefore no coincidence that in August 2022, even before the appointment of their respective ambassadors, the two countries appointed economic representatives, signaling their intention to prioritize economy and trade in the initial “transactions” of their renewed bilateral cooperation. It should also be remembered that between Ankara and Tel Aviv there is in place a free trade agreement (FTA), which entered into force in 1997.[32] Looking at the most recent data, in 2021 Turkey was Israel’s seventh largest trading partner, while Tel Aviv in the same year was Ankara’s ninth biggest trading partner.[33] Between 2010 and 2021, Turkish exports to Israel grew steadily each year, slowing down only in 2015, thus being little affected by the developments in political-diplomatic relations between the two countries.[34] On the contrary, Israeli exports to Turkey over the past decade have been more volatile, thus negatively affected where diplomatic crises have occurred.[35]

Going deeper, civil aviation is the sector in which Ankara and Tel Aviv have established the strongest partnership and where the two countries have decided to carry out new transactions. In fact, in July 2022, they signed a new agreement on civil aviation, the first since 1951.[36] Thanks to this agreement, new routes will be opened for the national carriers of the two countries. From the Turkish perspective, it is worth noting how this deal forms part of a broader scheme to enhance its role as a global hub of connectivity, transportation, and logistics between Europe and Asia. Hence, Turkey’s initial harsh opposition to the signing of the Abraham Accords should not be read solely as geopolitically or ideologically motivated, but also as economically-oriented.[37] Indeed, with the entry of Emirati companies into the Israeli market, Ankara understood that the Turkish primacy in this sector would be challenged.[38] On the Israeli side, in the past, establishing links with Turkey meant being able to break that regional geographic isolation to which Tel Aviv has been subject for decades.[39]

Another connected sector is tourism. Turkey is a major destination for Israeli tourists for whom tourist visas are not requested. Moreover, Turkey is a stopover from which Israeli citizens can reach several Asian destinations. Far more limited is Turkish tourism to Israel, partly because of issues related to security risks raised by Israelis. Finally, it should be noted that as of August 2022, a pilot program has been launched, thanks to which Palestinian travelers can take advantage of charter flights, operated by Pegasus (a Turkish low-cost carrier), departing from the Israeli Eilat Ramon airport.[40] Normally, without special permits, Palestinians are not allowed to travel anywhere through Tel Aviv airport. Those who live in the West Bank are forced to use Amman airport in Jordan. However, the day before the first flight was scheduled to leave, Israeli authorities stopped the trial program, even though the agreement with Turkey is still in place. The Israel Airports Authority said in a statement that it would make an announcement when a new date for the plan to start was decided, but gave no details on why it was paused.[41] Palestinian officials had spoken out against the plan, saying that it had not been coordinated with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in advance.[42]

Cooperation in the security field: Defense industry, intelligence, and Iranian activities

On the security front, there are several dossiers in which the two countries have made fruitful transactions in the past. First and foremost is the cooperation between the defense industries. For instance, in early 2000s, the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) completed the upgrade of 54 F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers in service for the Turkish Air Force, worth $700 million. In 2002, the IAI and Turkey began negotiations for the upgrade of seven Turkish C-130E transport aircraft, which were later unsuccessful due to differences over spending. Similar agreements were also made for the Turkish helicopter fleet, with the involvement of Israel Military Industries and Elbit Systems, Turkish M-60 tanks, and the growing field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).[43] Cooperation in this sector was interrupted in 2010 as a result of the Mavi Marmara crisis.[44] Thanks to the recent normalization process, in the following months one may expect to see renewed cooperation and deals of a similar nature.

While in the defense industry sector the recent rapprochement has not yet revived cooperation, positive transactions have been already seen on the intelligence front. Again, such cooperation is not to be regarded as an emerging alliance, but merely as specific actions aimed at gaining advantages on issues of mutual interest, as was the case with the alleged Iranian-orchestrated attacks against Israeli tourists on Turkish soil.

Iranian activities in the region can be seen as a ground for tacit cooperation between the two countries in other theaters as well, like Syria, where Israel and Turkey share some goals, such as the common objective of preventing the creation of an Iranian arc of influence with Syria as its epicenter.[45] A similar pattern is replicated in the Caucasus region, and more specifically in the confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, where Baku is seen as a valuable partner by Israel and a longtime ally by Turkey. On the other hand, however, a limitation for cooperation is the relationship between Israel and the Kurdish movements (in Syria, Iraq and Iran). In fact, one ought to be reminded of the collaboration between Israel and the Kurds since the 1960s, as part of the so called “Periphery doctrine.”[46]

Constraining factors limiting rapprochement: Natural gas and Palestine

The energy sector, and more notably natural gas, has placed the two countries at odds in a competition which involves the whole Eastern Mediterranean basin and several actors. This is a field in which a modus vivendi may be found in the future, even though it is not to be expected in the short-term. Israel became a relevant player in the energy field thanks to the discovery of two offshore gas fields – Tamar in 2009 and Leviathan in 2010 – which turned it into a net exporting country. This transformative situation triggered a competition with Turkey in relation to the European continent’s energy supply needs, given the contemporary creation of an axis of gas among Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Egypt.[47] This competition resulted in the exclusion of Turkey from the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF).

As mentioned earlier, due to the energy crisis provoked by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the Turkish president has attempted to revive a possible Israeli-Turkish partnership for the construction of a pipeline to transport Israeli gas to Europe via Turkey.[48] However, this project is unlikely to materialize because of the high economic costs and the aforementioned geopolitical difficulties, so much so that Israel dubbed the proposal as a non-starter.[49] Furthermore, one needs to take into account the already working route through which Israeli gas is transported to Egypt, where it is liquefied and then transported to Europe as LNG. At the moment, even the European Union seems willing to invest remarkably on the latter alignment, given the MoU recently signed with Egypt and Israel.[50] Therefore, to date, Israel remains uninterested as it sees no reason why it should put in danger the existing deep cooperation with its partners in order to find a compromise with Turkey. However, a long-term scenario in which Tel Aviv might consider carving out a mediating role to find a compromise between the EMGF and Turkey cannot be entirely ruled out.

The Palestinian issue will remain the main element of friction between Ankara and Tel Aviv in the long term, with a poor chance of it being solved. Ideological, religious, and strategic reasons have made AKP-ruled Turkey one of the main supporters of the Palestinian cause, along with Iran. Thus, under Erdogan’s leadership, the Palestinian issue is the main ground from which the cited diplomatic crises with Israel have arisen.[51] Nevertheless, in the last period, the Turkish president has developed practical management of the cycle of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation, which allows him to pragmatically handle minor crises without having to be forced to break diplomatic relations with Israel. Such was the case in the escalation during Ramadan in April 2022 and the last Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in August 2022 – evidenced by the softening of the condemnatory language towards Israeli operations used in speeches and official statements.[52] That being said, should a greater escalation occur, involving either Gaza or the West Bank, Ankara is likely to be led to harden its stance again. A related dossier is that of the city of Jerusalem and the management of the holy sites, control over which now hangs on intra-Islamic competition.[53] Ankara is increasing its influence in the Jerusalemite Arab community through increased funding for educational institutions, cultural activities, and NGOs.[54] This development is being closely monitored by the Israeli side, which fears a penetration of foreign actors in what it perceives to be a domestic affair.

Finally, the relationship between Turkey and Hamas remains the most critical dossier which, in the future, will continue to limit or increase Turkish-Israeli alignment. The Turkey-Hamas affinity lies in the ideological background shared by the Palestinian movement and the AKP. Although with different nuances, both belong to the family of political Islam, the main representative of which is the Egyptian-born Muslim Brotherhood group.[55] Members of the Palestinian organization for years have benefited from freedom of movement[56] on Turkish soil.[57] In addition to that, there have been several public meetings between the Turkish president and Hamas leaders, mostly after Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007, thus becoming a para-state entity. The recent Turkish-Israeli rapprochement has resulted in limited restrictions on Hamas activities by Ankara. This, however, has been deemed insufficient by Israel, and therefore continues to remain cautious, given the unlikely severing of relations between the Islamist movement and Ankara in the short-term.

What lies ahead?

The recent Turkish-Israeli rapprochement is part of a bilateral relationship marked in the past two decades by a “transactional” approach. Therefore, a deepening of cooperation on targeted dossiers should be expected in the coming months. This cooperation, however, even at times of greater détente, will not lead to the building of a strategic partnership or, even further, an organic alliance. In the medium term, a number of key factors can be identified as able to affect the cyclical course of the Turkish-Israeli relationship. Two of these are the foreign policy preferences that will be expressed by the new Israeli government and the results of the upcoming Turkish presidential elections. Despite the personal tensions with Erdogan in the past, the newly sworn-in Netanyahu led government is expected to continue the rapprochement path with Turkey, as suggested by the first phone call between the two leaders, right after the Israeli election. However, as was the case during the Cold war era, it is likely that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rather than the Prime Minister’s Office, will be responsible for managing relations with Ankara, contrary to what will likely happen with the Gulf countries. Therefore, Netanyahu will probably maintain a pragmatic level of cooperation with Turkey, without investing politically in a direct relationship with the Turkish president, who has a negative reputation among Netanyahu’s electoral constituency. As stated earlier, domestic politics is one of the main constraints that has the leverage to affect “transactional” foreign policy approaches.

Another variable to monitor will be the state of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The outbreak of a large-scale war involving the Gaza Strip or the West Bank could force Erdogan to revise the pragmatic management he has developed for handling minor crises to deal with potential domestic pressures demanding greater support for the Palestinian cause. Besides the above-mentioned structural dynamics, other factors that could influence the state of Israel-Turkey relations include the U.S. presidential elections in 2024, the outcome of the Iranian nuclear issue, the fate of the regional détente trend inaugurated in late 2020, and the course of the conflict in Ukraine and the impact it will have in other regions like the Middle East.


[1] Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, “Following Conversation between PM Lapid and Turkish President Erdoğan - Israel and Türkiye Restore Full Diplomatic Ties,” August 17, 2022,

[2] In the past, on two other occasions, there was a degradation of diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey. First, in 1980, when Turkey decided to oppose the passage by the Israeli Parliament of the Basic Law on Jerusalem Capital, and then in 2010, following the Mavi Marmara incident. See Alon Liel, “Turkey and Israel: A Chronicle of Bilateral Relations,” Mitvim, February 2017,; Shira Efron, The Future of Israeli-Turkish Relations (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2018),

[3] At that time, Palestinian demonstrations along the Gaza border were triggered by president Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. The announcement had been made on December 6, 2017 while the actual move and official inauguration ceremony took place on May 14, 2018. See U.S. Embassy in Israel, “Statement by Former President Trump on Jerusalem,” December 6, 2017,; U.S. Department of State, “Remarks at the Dedication Ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem,” May 14, 2018,

[4] Author conversation with a diplomatic official of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 5, 2022.

[5] “Erdogan: Israel Is a Terrorist State,” Al Jazeera, December 11, 2017,

[6] “Netanyahu Steps Up War of Words with Erdogan: ‘Get Used to It’,” Times of Israel, April 1, 2018,

[7] Galib Bashirov and Ihsan Yilmaz, “The Rise of Transactionalism in International Relations: Evidence from Turkey’s Relations with the European Union,” Australian Journal of International Affairs 74, no. 2 (2020): pp. 165-184,

[8] This analysis does not aspire to define as “transactional” the whole foreign policy approaches of Turkey and Israel, but just the peculiar bilateral interactions between them.

[9] Ali Bakir, “Why the Middle East Is Witnessing a Rare Moment of Regional De-escalation,” Middle East Eye, August 26, 2022,

[10] Tuqa Khalid, “Full Transcript of Al Ula GCC Summit Declaration: Bolstering Gulf Unity,” Alarabiya News, January 6, 2021,

[11] The stimulus for the initial rapprochement between the UAE and Iran was when Abu Dhabi decided to send medical aid to Iran during the Covid-19 pandemic. Afterwards, officials from the two countries started to discuss issues of mutual interest, such as the Gulf maritime security architecture, the security situation in Yemen and the conflict in Syria. See Samuel Ramani, “Is the UAE’s Engagement with Iran a Cold Peace or Genuine Rapprochement?” Responsible Statecraft, August 12, 2020,

[12] Author conversation with a diplomatic official of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 5, 2022.

[13] Author conversation with an Israeli analyst/expert on Turkey, July 5, 2022.

[14] The member states are Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and Palestine (Palestinian Authority).

[15] Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Deterring Terror: How Israel Confronts the Next Generation of Threats, Special Report (Cambridge MA: Belfer Center, 2016),

[16] Murat Kubilay, “As Turkey’s Economic Woes Worsen, a New Currency Crisis Is Approaching,” Middle East Institute, July 20, 2022,

[17] Laura Pitel, “UAE Agrees Deal to Boost Turkey’s Central Bank Reserves,” Financial Times, January 19, 2022,; Matthew Martin, Beril Akman, and Firat Kozok, “Saudi Arabia Set to Deposit $5 Billion at Turkish Central Bank,” Bloomberg, November 22, 2022,

[18] “Turkey Releases Israeli Couple Arrested for Spying over Palace Photos,” BBC, November 18, 2021,

[19] Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “President Herzog Speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” June 19, 2022,

[20] “Lapid Talks with Turkish FM, in First Acknowledged Call in 13 Years,” Times of Israel, January 20, 2022,

[21] Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “President Herzog Meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara,” March 9, 2022,

[22] Author conversation with a diplomatic official of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 5, 2022.

[23] Siri Neset, Mustafa Aydın, Hasret Dikici Bilgin et. al., Turkish Foreign Policy: Structures and Decision-making Processes, Chr. Michelsen Institute, CMI Report (2019),

[24] Ofra Bengio, The Turkish-Israeli Relationship: Changing Ties of Middle Eastern Outsiders (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).

[25] Garet Jenkins, Context and Circumstance: The Turkish Military and Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[26] Barak Ravid, “Turkish FM Visits Israel for First Time in 15 Years,” Axios, May 25, 2022,

[27] “Israel Decides to Appoint Irit Lillian as New Ambassador to Türkiye,” Daily Sabah, September 19, 2022,; Ragip Soylu, “Turkey Names Former Jerusalem Envoy as New Ambassador to Israel,” Middle East Eye, October 6, 2022,

[28] Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, “First Meeting of an Israeli PM and Turkish President since 2008,” September 21, 2022,

[29] Gallia Lindenstrauss and Remi Daniel, “The Lapid-Erdogan Meeting: Relations between Turkey and Israel Continue to Warm,” Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), September 22, 2022,

[30] Ron Kampeas, “Turkey’s Erdogan Tells US Jewish Leaders He Plans to Visit Israel,” Times of Israel, September 20, 2022,

[31] “Turkey, Israel Eager to Deepen Defense Ties,” Arab News, October 23, 2022,; “Erdoğan Receives Israeli Defense Chief Gantz for Talks in Ankara,” Daily Sabah, October 27, 2022,

[32] Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Trade, “Israel,”

[33] Trading Economics, “Turkey Exports to Israel,”; Trading Economics, “Israel Exports to Turkey,”

[34] Daniel Workman, “Israel’s Top Trading Partners,” World’s Top Exports (WTE),

[35] Daniel Workman, “Turkey's Top Trading Partners,” World’s Top Exports (WTE),

[36] Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Israel-Turkey Bilateral Civil Aviation Agreement Initialed Today,” July 7, 2022,

[37] Author conversation with an Israeli analyst/expert on Turkey, July 5, 2022.

[38] Competition in infrastructure between Turkey and the UAE affects the entire Middle East region. For an in-depth discussion, see Asli Aydıntaşbaş and Cinzia Bianco, “Useful Enemies: How the Turkey-UAE Rivalry Is Remaking the Middle East,” European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), March 15, 2021,

[39] The borders between Israel and two of its four neighboring states (Lebanon and Syria) are closed. Egypt and Jordan, with which it has air and land connections, are not attractive destinations for Israeli citizens due to security concerns.

[40] Daniel Salami, “West Bank Palestinians to Fly to Turkey via Israel’s Ramon Airport Starting End of August,” Ynet News, August 9, 2022,

[41] Sam Sokol, “Israel Postpones Opening of Airport to Palestinians After Test Flight,” Haaretz, August 22, 2022,

[42] Ahmad Abu Amer, “PA Deters Palestinians from Using Israel's Ramon Airport,” Al-Monitor, August 23, 2022,

[43] Eugene Kogan, Cooperation in the Israeli-Turkish Defense Industry, Middle East Series 05/43, Conflict Studies Research Centre, September 2005,

[44] In May 2010, six civilian boats attempted to break the Israeli maritime embargo on the Gaza Strip. The action was organized by the Free Gaza Movement, a coalition of several NGOs, and the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, a Turkish NGO. On 31 May 2010, an Israeli naval commando boarded the ships in order to force them to the Israeli port of Ashdod for inspection. During the operation, the Israeli military faced resistance from a small group of passengers. Due to the clashes on board, nine activists died, consequently sparking a diplomatic crisis with Turkey.

[45] Ali Bakir and Omer Özkizilcik, “Iran’s Efforts to Undermine the Turkish-Israeli Rapprochement Are Backfiring,” Washington Institute, July 26, 2022,

[46] Yossi Alpher, Periphery: Israel’s Search for Middle East Allies (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).

[47] Turkey still maintains strained relations with neighboring Greece and Cyprus due to geopolitical files like the status of Northern Cyprus and Aegean islands as well as the question of demarcation of exclusive economic zones.

[48] “East Med Gas Feasible Only through Turkey: Erdoğan,” Hurriyet Daily News, January 18, 2022,

[49] Author conversation with Israeli analyst/expert on Turkey, August 30, 2022.

[50] European Commission, “EU Egypt Israel Memorandum of Understanding,” June 17, 2022,

[51] Gallia Lindenstrauss and Remi Daniel, “Erdogan: Back to His Old Self?” Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), August 11, 2022,

[52] Levent Kenez, “After Rapprochement, Turkey Softens Its Language toward Israeli Operations, Expressing Only Concern for Palestinians,” Nordic Monitor, August 12, 2022,

[53] Adnan Abu Aber, “Jordan, Turkey Compete to Woo Jerusalem,” Al Monitor, May 18, 2016,

[54] Hakan Mehmetcik, “Humanitarian NGOs: Motivations, Challenges and Contributions to Turkish Foreign Policy,” Perceptions 24, no. 2-3 (2019): pp. 249-278,

[55] For an in-depth discussion, see Gallia Lindenstrauss, “Turkish-Hamas Relations: Between Strategic Calculations and Ideological Affinity,” Strategic Assessment 17, no. 2 (2014),

[56] According to other sources, Turkey granted passports to Hamas affiliates. See Tuvan Gumrukcu, “Turkey Gave Hamas Members Passports, Israel Says,” Reuters, August 26, 2020,

[57] “Hamas Said to Be Secretly Operating Cyber, Counterintelligence HQ in Turkey,” Times of Israel, October 23, 2020,

: 30-April-2023

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