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The war in Idlib exposed some important geopolitical facts. One of them is that the Iranian presence in Syria works against Turkish interests. The Iranian militias, mainly the Lebanese Hezbollah, played a dominant part in the battle over Idlib where more than 50 Turkish soldiers lost their lives.

Iranian destructive interference in Syria (and not only in Syria) is nothing new for Israel. According to foreign media sources and the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), Israeli airplanes and drones are challenging Iranian military targets in Syria day in and day out, including Hizballah targets in south Syria next to our northern border.

The current relations between Turkey and Israel suffer from lack of political dialogue and from too much of “Megaphone Diplomacy”. However, this does not have to be the case. Turkey and Israel do not need to agree on everything. There were and there will always be political differences.

However, we do not need to agree on everything in order to bring our relations into a normal level. This level can bring benefit to both Turkey and Israel in facing some of our similar challenges more successfully – as can be seen in Syria. But not only in Syria.

Take the Covid-19 pandemic. Turkey is known for its strong industry that produces much of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which is needed in Israel in this time of crisis. Israel, on the other hand, is known for its strong high-tech industry that can provide some important solutions to this crisis. Forbes magazine had recently mentioned Israel as one of the 10 Covid-19 safest states in the world.

The list of common interests between Turkey and Israel is long. It includes also using Israeli sea-ports for Turkey to export goods to Jordan, bilateral trade, tourism, energy, academic cooperation, investment and other subjects.

Few days ago a new government was formed in Jerusalem. Two years ago, Turkey sent the Israeli Ambassador back to Jerusalem because of disagreements we had on the Palestinian issue. Those disagreements are not going to disappear. However, the joint interests of both Turkey and Israel – as was depicted here – will be served much better if both States were to have normal relationship. The ball is on the Turkish side.

Roey Gilad

Chargé d’affaires, Embassy of Israel in Turkey İsrail’in Türkiye Büyükelçiliğinde Elçi Müsteşar

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