In a phone conversation Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to normalize ties between the two countries, after Netanyahu apologized over the deaths of nine Turkish activists in a raid on the Gaza flotilla in 2010. But there were signs of problems even before then. Here is a brief guide to key moments in that troubled history:
- Erdogan, Netanyahu reconciliation: Interests triumph over ego and politics
- Top Turkish officials: Rapid steps to restore Turkey-Israel ties to commence in coming days
- Turkish PM Erdogan: Conciliation with Israel could hasten Assad’s fall
- Beneath Syria's dark clouds of war, a silver lining: Israel a conduit for regional trade
On December 22, 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert traveled to Ankara to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two agreed that the Turkish government would continue to facilitate direct talks between Israel and Syria. A private conversation between the two leaders on the aforementioned peace talks lasted well into the night.
On December 27, 2008, Israel launched the Cast Lead offensive on the Gaza Strip. The next day, on December 28, Erdogan announced he had frozen his contact with Olmert. The Turkish leader branded Israel's attacks on Gaza as a "serious crime against humanity" and urged a halt to the strikes.
On January 1, 2009, Erdogan stalked off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland after sparring with President Shimon Peres over the fighting in Gaza. "You are killing people," Erdogan told Peres.
A year later, on January 11, 2010, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Turkey's ambassador to Israel, Ahmet Oguc Celikkol, met at short notice, which was seen as an attempt by Israel's Foreign Ministry to embarrass the Turkish diplomat. A photo-op was held at the start of the meeting, during which Ayalon sat Celikkol on a chair that was lower than those of the Israeli diplomats. Ayalon instructed the photographers to focus on that fact.
On May 31, 2010, Israel Navy troops boarded the Mavi Marmara vessel, which was part of a flotilla making its way from Turkey to the Gaza Strip. The six-vessel convoy aimed to break through a comprehensive blockade Israel had placed on the coastal territory. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the raid. Turkey called Israel a "terrorist state" and recalled its ambassador.
The United Nations Palmer Report on the flotilla incident, made public on September 1, 2011, found that the Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara en route to the Gaza Strip were met with "organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers," and were "forced to use self defense."
A day later, on September 2, 2011, Turkey announced it was downgrading its diplomatic ties with Israel to the lowest possible level, thus expelling Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Gabby Levy.
In November 2012, Israel and Turkey resumed talks on ending the crisis in relations between the two countries.
On March 22, 2013, Netanyahu made the phone call to Erdogan, apologizing over the deaths of the nine Turkish citizens in the flotilla incident. The normalization agreed by both countries included the return of the Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv and the Israeli ambassador to Ankara.