Jerusalem – The outcome of the elections in Turkey was received in Israel with mixed feelings:

On one hand, satisfaction for the victory of the ruling party, during whose term the relations between Israel and Turkey reached unprecedented heights.

On the other hand, officials in Israel, as in the entire Western world, are not concealing their concern with the Islamization process taking place in Turkey.

During the period of the government headed by the Islamic Justice and Development Party, ties between Israel and Turkey actually became stronger, both on the strategic level and on the economic level.

According to senior Israeli political sources, the firm ties between the two countries ensure the stability of the relationship between them.

“Relations between Israel and Turkey are no longer dependent on the government, because the scale of civilian ties is immense – trade between the two countries has reached $2.5 billion. To this, another $7 billion should be added in economic cooperation between Israeli and Turkish companies, and another $1 billion in services. In total, over $10 billion,” said the political sources.

Political sources said Sunday night that because Erdogan’s party has Islamic roots, it has tried over the years to prove that it is favorably disposed toward the West and toward good relations with Israel, in order to assuage concerns that it is extremist. Israeli officials feared a scenario in which Erdogan’s party would have been forced to add to its coalition the extreme right-wing Nationalist Movement Party, which is hostile to Israel, and would consequently have been forced to cool its attitude to Israel.

Israel has enjoyed the benefit of the good relations between the ruling Islamist party and the Arab and Muslim world. For example, Turkey initiated the historical meeting two years ago between then-foreign minister Silvan Shalom and Pakistan’s foreign minister in Istanbul.

In recent years, almost all the leaders of the Islamist party have visited Israel. Israel’s embassy in Ankara is familiar with all its members of parliament and is well connected with them. Sources in Israel said that the party’s victory would continue the economic prosperity in the ties between the countries. However, looking several years ahead, there is room for concern: Turkey is turning into an Islamic power. In the coming years, there is no reason to expect some kind of rapprochement between Turkey and Iran.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2007

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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