The Ups and Downs of Turkish-Israeli Relations

They may not always get along, but ultimately, these two countries need each other.

In 1949, Turkey recognized the state of Israel, becoming the first Muslim country to exchange diplomatic missions with it. Since then, their relations have gone through many highs and lows. In 2004, the American Jewish Congress gave then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan its Profile of Courage award because of his positive attitude toward Israel and the world’s Jewry. Ten years later, it asked him to return it because of his virulent criticism of Israel – which he “gladly” did. Turkish-Israeli relations are once again at a low point, following clashes over the Palestinian issue among other things. But it’s unlikely they will stay that way; both countries are in need of regional allies, and their economic and security interests will outweigh any diplomatic disputes or gestures of disapproval. The Honeymoon Phase The relationship between the state of Israel and Turkey extends back decades. In 1957, the two countries established secret intelligence and security relations in response to the Soviet Union’s penetration into the Middle East to supply Egypt and Syria with military hardware and technical assistance. A year later, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion met secretly with his Turkish counterpart and formed the Peripheral Pact, an alliance devoted to military […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.