Quarterly Updates for (16 Aug 2016 — 15 Nov 2016)

As Israel and Turkey implemented the reconciliation deal they announced on 6/27 (see JPS 46 [1]), their new relationship took shape. Hours after Turkey’s parliament ratified (8/20) the 6/27 deal, the IDF launched a series of air strikes against Gaza targets allegedly belonging to Hamas, a long-time Turkish ally. With Ankara keen to improve relations with Israel to secure future energy partnerships while maintaining a positive relationship with Hamas, Turkey’s response to the assault was critical in that it set a precedent. Further raising the stakes was a protest against the IDF strikes by 5 Turks who attempted to break into the Israeli consulate in Istanbul on 8/21. The following day, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry released (8/22) a statement condemning the “disproportionate” strikes and stating that “the fact that our ties with Israel have normalized does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of such attacks that target the Palestinian people.”

Neither Israel nor Turkey allowed their differences over Hamas to get in the way of their reconciliation deal, however. Turkish pres. Erdoğan authorized the deal on 8/31, and Israel transferred (9/30) the agreed $20 m. to a humanitarian fund set up by the Turkish govt. for the victims of the 5/2010 Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Meanwhile, a 2d Turkish cargo ship arrived (9/6) in the Israeli port of Ashdod with humanitarian aid destined for Gaza (the 1st arrived late the previous quarter; see JPS 46 [1]).

Turkish and Israeli energy ministers met in Istanbul on 10/13 for talks on strengthening energy cooperation, including the potential construction of a natural gas pipeline in the e. Mediterranean. In addition to advancing joint projects, this marked the 1st official and public ministerial meeting between Israelis and Turks since 5/2010. The 2 sides sealed the deal at the end of the quarter with an exchange of ambs. Israel sent (11/15) dep. amb. to Britain Eitan Na’eh to Ankara and Erdoğan appointed (11/16) 1 of his top foreign policy advisors, Kemal Ökem, amb. to Israel.