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