As Turkey becomes increasingly isolated after a series of provocative actions, Ankara has reached out to Israel in an effort to heal old wounds. Unfortunately, Israel isn’t interested.
In 2010, Israeli commandos raided a Turkish ship en route for the Gaza Strip. Nine Turkish citizens lost their lives in the skirmish, and Ankara was quick to cut ties with Israel.
But on Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed to indicate an interest in normalizing relations between the two nations.
“The region definitely needs this,” he said, according to Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah. He added that in addition to paying compensation for the raid, Israel must also lift its blockade of Gaza.
Israeli officials, however, seem uninterested in such a deal.
“The ball is in their court. We apologized and were ready to pay damages. He should stop talking nonsense about the removal of the Gaza blockade,” an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Jerusalem Post.
“We are not about to pay more for normalization.”
The Turkish government is desperate for allies. The downing of a Russian Su-24 in Syrian airspace last month has drawn condemnation from both Russia and Turkey’s partners in NATO. That incident left two Russians dead.
Moscow released satellite imagery proving Turkey’s link to the illegal oil market which funds Daesh, also known as ISIL/the Islamic State. Erdogan has steadfastly denied those allegations, but the evidence has forced many Western allies to reconsider Ankara’s role in the fight against terrorism.
Ankara also faces heavy criticism over its decision to deploy tanks and troops into Iraq, a move the Iraqi government views as a breach of its sovereignty.
“The government is committed to maintaining good neighborly relations, but at the same time reiterates its right to take measures to protect national sovereignty,” the Iraqi government said in a statement.
The United States has also condemned Turkey’s incursion into Iraqi territory, and the United Nations Security Council is deliberating on a formal complaint lodged by Baghdad.
The Israeli government seems all too aware of Turkey’s desperation.
“The Turks are isolated,” a separate Israeli official said, according to Press TV. “It seems that Ankara wants to normalize relations with Israel, and is especially interested in the gas deal which will see Israel establishing a pipeline from their fields to Turkey and other places in the world.”