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Israeli estimates: Erdogan will continue the policy of rapprochement with Tel Aviv

The Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, congratulated his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on winning another presidential term in the elections that took place yesterday, Sunday, and wrote in his congratulations that he was “convinced that we will continue to work together in order to strengthen and expand the good relations” between the two countries.

Official Israeli sources estimate that Erdogan will continue his policy of rapprochement with Israel during his new presidential term, after receiving Herzog and Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, and calling Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election as prime minister. Erdogan also held a phone conversation with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in late 2021, and met with his successor, Yair Lapid, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting last year.

However, Israeli experts estimate that relations between Turkey and Israel will enter into a crisis in the event that Israel undertakes a large-scale aggression in the Gaza Strip, or a war breaks out between Israel and Hezbollah, according to what the Haaretz newspaper reported today, Monday.

Diplomat Udi Eitam, who held the position of Israeli Consul General in Istanbul until the beginning of this year, said, “Erdogan made a decision to stop the crises with us and improve relations, and there is no reason now for him to deviate from this decision.” He noted that “Israel was greatly appreciated” for its assistance to Turkey in the aftermath of the earthquake.

The expert on Turkish affairs at the Institute for National Security Research at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Galia Lindenstrauss, Erdogan’s rapprochement with Israel is part of a broader step to improve Turkey’s foreign relations, especially with countries in the Middle East, adding that “the normalization process will not be affected by the elections, and it seems that it would not have been affected if the opposition had won.”

And she added, “Erdogan managed in the past to use the tensions with Israel for his domestic political interests, but he did not do so in his recent election campaign. There is real interest in Turkey to maintain and expand the progress (in relations) in recent months.”

The expert on Turkish affairs at Tel Aviv University, d. Hai Eitan Cohen Enrocic, that Erdogan was criticized by opposition parties for his decision to improve relations with Israel, but he did not regret it and does not expect to change this direction now.

Yenrocic said, “Erdogan needed financial support from the Gulf states, against the backdrop of the economic crisis in Turkey. These countries made it clear to him that they wanted a calmer, less confrontational foreign policy in return, and it is possible to see how in the last year he calmed down and normalized relations with several countries.” Important in the region, including Israel, in the general spirit of the Abraham Accords.

He added that a large-scale military confrontation between Israel and Hamas or Hezbollah would change the picture of the situation, especially in the event of a large number of civilian deaths. “And there were ideas in Israel to use Erdogan against Hamas, and to exploit his relations with this movement in order to introduce another mediator into the arena in Gaza, but in the end this did not happen because of the desire (in Israel) to preserve Egypt’s position.”

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