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Israeli-Turkish Reconciliation Not a Done Deal

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's aspirations to become leader of the Sunni Muslim world could hinder rebuilding strategic ties with Israel, argues Ben Caspit.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara June 25, 2013. Turkish anti-terrorism police detained 20 people in raids in the capital Ankara on Tuesday in connection with weeks of anti-government protests across the country, media reports said. The unrest began at the end of May when police used force against campaigners opposed to plans to redevelop a central Istanbul park. The protest spiralled int
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Exactly one month after that surprising phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan under the protective gaze of US President Barack Obama, the two sides have finally started talking. An Israeli delegation consisting of two persons arrived in Ankara to meet with senior Turkish officials [April 22] and bridge the differences between the two countries. These emissaries are National Security Adviser Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror and the Special Emissary for Turkish Affairs Yosef Ciechanover. They have no simple task ahead of them. The Turks are demanding over $1 million for each of the victims' families in reparations, while the sum that Israel is talking about is considerably less. But money will not be the obstacle along the road to rehabilitating Israeli-Turkish relations.

Our story is much more complex and convoluted than mere money might suggest. It encompasses geopolitical and strategic processes of much greater weight. It involves a tectonic shift of the continental plates, which began long ago and which stands in conflict with the strategic interests of at least some of the key players in the Middle East, chief among them Israel and the US. And, as always, there is a substantive debate between two distinctly different approaches. The bad news is that as of the writing of this piece, the rehabilitation of Israeli-Turkish relations seems much more distant and problematic than was previously thought. It’s like a military march, with full gear and stretchers open, but with no clear end point.

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