Israel and Turkey should stick together


Sezgin Pancar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Turkish government ship Lady Leyla in Mersin before being sent to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza following the completion of the reconciliation deal between Turkey and Israel, July 1, 2016.

JERUSALEM (JTA)-Israel and Turkey ought to be friends, geopolitically speaking.

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put it in January: "Israel needs a country like Turkey in this region. We, too, should admit that we need a country like Israel."

But the regional powers often can't seem to make it work.

In 2010, Turkey cut ties with Israel over its deadly military raid of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara flotilla. And this week, days after the Turkish parliament ratified a reconciliation agreement to restore bilateral relations with Israel, the states traded recriminations over Israel's bombardment Sunday of Hamas targets in Gaza.

Yet if Israel and Turkey can keep from quarreling, they each have much to gain.

"The situation for the past six years wasn't good for either of us, Turkey or Israel, and eventually everyone realized we should repair the damage. So that's what happened," David Kushner, professor emeritus of Middle Eastern history at the University of Haifa, told JTA. "I think most people actually welcome this new phase. It may not bring back the intimacy of the past, but both countries realize their interests are common, and that's what counts in international relations."

Israel and Turkey are to exchange ambassadors in the coming days, as per the reconciliation deal. Here are three good reasons they shouldn't bring them home and return to their standoff anytime soon.


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