Do national interests oblige Turkey to cooperate with Israel?

Do national interests oblige Turkey to cooperate with Israel?

There is a large front uniting against Turkey, which consists of the European Union under the names of Italy, Greece and Greek Cyprus; Israel, Egypt, the Gulf Countries and the United States behind the curtains.

Turkey’s opportunity is that this large front is not a solid one, and the cracks between them deepen, especially after the Turkish-backed forces’ successes in Libya.

The front against Ankara will be torn apart, if the diplomatic steps that consider the clashes and the balances in the region are taken.

However, this sensitive situation is being ignored in Turkey and the idea of cooperation with Israel, a close ally of the United States and a country that has been at war with the countries and the nations of the region for many years, being persistently advocated for is noteworthy.

Relying on these, it is worth examining the content and the consequences of the idea of cooperation with Israel, which is justified by the motto “states do not have consistent alliances and or rivalries, they only have mutual interests”.


Before we proceed with this evaluation, let us look at the trend created in Turkey for an agreement with Israel in the context of the events that took place in the last month and the sources for this trend:

1. Israel held itself back from signing anti-Turkish submissions by the countries participating in the EASTMED in early May.

2. The first spark of the campaign to normalize the relations with Tel Aviv, were given with the State of Israel’s Twitter post on May 7, which read “We are proud of our diplomatic relations with Turkey. We hope our ties grow even stronger in the future”.

3. Following this tweet, the Turkish media had begun to work intensively on the idea of cooperation with Israel.

4. Former Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Alon Liel made signs that the new government in Israel is warmer for a deal with Turkey in an interview with the Cumhuriyet Newspaper on May 15, saying “Improving Turkey-Israel relations will give a negative impact, especially with Cairo.” In the interview, he said Egypt was a destructive factor in this.

5. In an article on the Turkish website Halimiz, Roey Gilad, the Israeli Chargé’d affaires in Ankara, wrote, “Turkey and Israel may cooperate against the Coronavirus pandemic and against the Iranian-backed forces in Syria.”

6. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post has reported that “Israel learned from Hezbollah’s defeat at the hands of Turkey”.

7. A cargo plane belonging to Israeli El Al Airlines landed in Turkey on May 24, exactly 13 years later. It was reported that the cargo plane was delivering medical aid to the United States.

When we evaluate these actions outlined above, we can conclude that Israel has engaged in a major political maneuver towards Turkey.


There were some who embraced these events with great joy in Turkey and began to argue for “cooperation with Israel for the geopolitical interests of the state” to the upfront.

Of course, it is useful for Turkey to protect its interests by pursuing a 360 degree diplomacy, free of ideological or other limitations. In this regard, it would be in Ankara’s interest to come to an understanding with just about any state, including Israel.

However, given Israel’s sensitive position in the region, the effects of cooperation with the Tel Aviv administration over the Eastern Mediterranean are likely to carry on beyond the region and negatively affect Turkey’s relationship with other countries.

At this point, if an alliance with Israel would be established, it is worth listing out pros and cons. Let us start with pros:

1. If it were to come to an agreement with Israel, Turkey would reach a maritime border agreement with another country in the Eastern Mediterranean after Libya, thus gradually limiting the area of action of Greece and Greek Cyprus.

2. Better relations with Tel Aviv will make it easier for Ankara to improve relations with the Atlantic and the financial spheres, thanks to its vast Jewish lobby among the United States and Europe.

3. Normalization with Tel Aviv would slide the door for a normalization with the Gulf Countries, which have been maintaining good relations with Israel, also opening up the possibility of new financial opportunities for Turkey.


Let us continue with the cons of a potential deal with Tel Aviv;

1. Relations with Arab states, especially with Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq and Egypt, will be further disrupted.

2. Algeria and Tunisia are likely to tend to move away from Ankara. If such an event occurs, the situation in Libya will turn against Turkey.

3. The image of Turkey, which had been positive within the Arab nations despite everything, will be significantly disrupted and cultural, economical and the political ties would be weakened.

4. The agreement with Israel will negatively affect Turkey’s relations with his neighbor andtrade partner Iran, given Tel Aviv’s aggressive stance towards Tehran.

5. Disturbances in the relations with Iran would also disturb the ongoing process in Syria.

6. Reaching a deal with Israel while fighting against separatist activities in northern Syria and Iraq would push Ankara into a political dead end and chaos.

In summary, it would not be wrong to say that a cooperation with Israel on the Eastern Mediterranean would not only stay in the Eastern Mediterranean and would also mean an agreement with the Atlantic bloc as well, and that this would make Turkey’s newly established Eurasian stance quite controversial.


There is a thin line between negotiating maritime borders with Israel and to cooperating with it.

Discussing the maritime borders with Israel is a natural right of Turkey, and should be discussed when necessary.

Cooperation with Israel, on the other hand, would mean turning away from the Eurasian route which it has followed the last few years, and returning to the Atlanticist route, which it had followed since World War II.

The impact of Ankara’s returning to such cooperation cannot be only limited to foreign policy. Ankara-Tel Aviv cooperation would even cause some factions who today advocate the agreement with Israel in the name of “the national interests”, to get rid of the agreement in the near future.

It is worth remembering that Israel has played as much role as the US in the imperialist operations in Turkey such as March 12 1971, September 12 1980 military coups and the Ergenekon trials. Otherwise, the price to be paid is likely to be even heavier than the results of the US-Israeli plots Turkey has previously been exposed to.

When we step aside and look back, we will see that this trend of rapprochement between Turkey and Israel will bring the “The Deal of the Century” project to the forefront, given that it includes the total annexation of Palestine and the reshaping of the Middle Eastern region. The other step of this project is Israel advocating for itself as an Arab-friendly country through the Gulf states.

Turkey has the power and opportunity to create new options for itself. It is not obliged to align with any country, let alone one that comes with as much baggage as Israel.

Onur Sinan Güzaltan
Onur Sinan Güzaltan was born in Istanbul in 1985. He had his Bachelors's degree in Law, from the Paris-Est Créteil Val de Marne Universty /Paris XII and a Master's degree in International and European Law.He got his certificate of diploma equivalence at Galatasaray University. Later, he got a Master's degree in International Trade Law, at the Institut de Droit des Affaires Internationales, founded jointly by the Sorbonne Universty and the Cairo Universty.In this process, he had served as the Cairo representative for the Aydinlik Newspaper. He has several articles and television streams within the international press, in such as People's Daily, Al Yaum, Al Ahram, Russia Today FranceAl Youm Al Sabea. In addition to being the author of the Tanrı Bizi İster Mi?, a work that studies the 2011-2013 political period in Egypt, he had also contributed to the multi-author study titled Ortadoğu Çıkmazında Türkiye, with an article that focused on the Turkish-Egyptian relations. While currently working as a lawyer, he also writes a weekly column for Aydinlik Newspaper on the subject of international politics and geopolitics.

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January 2021