President Isaac Herzog’s meeting Wednesday with his nominal Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, could end the era of hostility, rivalry and suspicion that have characterized the two countries’ relations for nearly a dozen years.
The bitter sentiment that has accumulated since the Mavi Marmara incident, the mutual recriminations and threats between Israeli prime ministers and the Turkish leadership, created a deep rift that will require a great deal of joint work, goodwill and the creation of a stable fabric of interests to rebuild a proper relationship based on mutual trust.
This is a worthy and essential investment for both states. Analysts are already busy calculating profits and losses, costs and benefits, the extent of concessions and humiliation – but what's important to stress now is the fact that Israel-Turkey is seen as a natural alliance, one that should not have reached the nadir that it has.
The civil, military and economic alliance that served both countries well for decades and built a sense of kinship between the two peoples, fell victim to struggles of prestige, ego and arrogance. Each side played the role of a haughty power that does not need the other. The alliance’s renewal may attest to recognition of the need to discard the mantle of dark emotions in favor of realpolitik. That, because the constantly shifting political kaleidoscope of the Mideast refuses to consider memoirs. It requires even enemies and adversaries to reexamine their positions and suit their policies to it. Israel has become an ally of Arab states and assimilated into their set of interests, just as Turkey is cleaving its way into the hearts of these states and has even become a partner of Arab states that only a year ago saw it as a regional threat.
This doesn’t mean that all the disputes between Israel and Turkey and between it and other states in the region will suddenly dissolve. Turkey has a clear, firm position on the Palestinian issue and toward the settlements, it still supports Hamas and has adopted the Temple Mount as a component of its regional involvement. But none of this stops it from close trade and intelligence cooperation with Israel.
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Both countries have wasted too much time and lost too many opportunities that could have served them and their citizens. We must hoped that the meeting of the presidents in Turkey will bear immediate diplomatic fruit, such as the appointment of ambassadors in Ankara and Tel Aviv, a reciprocal visit by Erdogan in Jerusalem and agreements of official cooperation between the two governments. Mutual interests, mechanisms to realize them and a constructive atmosphere to resolve conflicts can thrive on such soil.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.