New Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has conveyed a reconciliatory message to four countries with which Turkey has had strained relations, including Israel.
“Israel, Syria, Russia, Egypt…There can’t be any permanent enmities between these countries encircling Black Sea and the Mediterranean. An incident happened with Russia. We of course won’t allow the violation of our right to sovereignty. However, it’s not right to stick to a single incident,” Yıldırım said, referring to the fallout between his country and Russia after Turkey downed a Russian plane that violated Turkish airspace in November 2015, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.
Yıldırım, who replaced resigned Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in May, also said, “We are coming to a point with Israel. They are also showing will. There are contacts. It’s not concluded yet. I don’t think it will take long. The determinative thing here is eliminating the isolation of Gaza for humanitarian purposes.”
Turkey and Israel have had strained relations since the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, in which nine Turkish militants were killed in clashes after they attacked Israeli commandos who boarded a ship that was trying to breach the blockade on Gaza. But more recently, the Turkish government offered condolences to Israel after the March 2016 suicide bombing in Istanbul, in which three Israeli tourists were killed. The Turkish gesture was viewed as signaling a shift in Turkey’s outlook on the Jewish state.
“Israel can be an asset when it comes to Syria given its intelligence resources, and the Turkish government also believes that better relations with the U.S. will result should it reconcile with Israel,” Michael Koplow, an expert on Turkey and the policy director for the Israel Policy Forum think tank, told JNS.org in May. “Turkey and Israel have also been bandied about as potential energy partners, with Israel needing a market where it can export its natural gas, and Turkey needing a supplier to meet its growing energy needs and help it reduce its reliance on Russian gas.”
“We need to look at the bigger picture. There is no animosity between our peoples. It’s possible to return to the old days and even take it further,” Yıldırım said about Turkish relations with Israel, Syria, Russia, and Egypt.