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Israel-Turkey relations date back to March, 1949, when Turkish Muslim majority dominated the nation and officially recognized Israel as a nation located in the Middle East of Asia. Turkey is also the first nation among all Arabic nations to have established a bilateral relationship with Israel before Iran joined. The two countries established the Turkish-Israel relationship, which lasted for several years up to 1967. In 1958, the prime minister of Israel, Mr. David Gurion, met with the Turkish prime minister in a secret meeting, where the two parties entered into an agreement sharing some diplomatic relationship, including military knowledge, public relations, and campaign and intelligence information (Murinson 16). They agreed to push for more economic growth and prowess for the purpose of turning Asia into an economic giant.
However, the relationship was tarnished in 1967, when Israel entered into a six-day war with Egypt, called Tel el Kabir. In the war, Israel fought with the Egyptians and captured the Suez Canal. Turkey was unhappy with it and supported the withdrawal of Israel as one the member states from the territory (Allen 16). However, it turned down to vote in a meeting that Israel was an aggressive nation. In a meeting held in Rabat, Morocco, Turkey turned down Israel’s request for resolution and instead called for more severe relations between the two countries (Nachmani 23).
However, their commercial relationship had never ended and .the two countries continued to share their ideas on military issues. Their relationship influenced by the cold war created loopholes, but Turkey hypocritically maintained to support and trade with Israel. Until 2000, the relationship was only held on special-extraordinary circumstances, such as trade and military knowledge. In order for the relationship to flourish, the two countries maintained diplomatic ties with the Israeli Embassy and general counsels located in Turkish capital city. Strategic relations were highly maintained by the Turkish general staff. The Embassy was located in Istanbul, while the office of the general counsel was later moved to Pihas Avivi. The two diplomats were assigned diplomatic relationships of ensuring good relations between Israel and Turkey. In January 2000, the two countries entered into a free trade agreement as a matter of enhancing economics relations and making Turkey the first Arabic nation to trade with Israel. For the purpose of ensuring this peace agreement Israel exported over products in an amount of 1.5 billion dollars and imported others, which were estimated to cost over 1.8 billion dollars. Trade continued to flourish between the countries making Israel the third largest exporter to Turkey. For example, in 2010 and 2011, Israel exported over 600 million dollars to Turkey. On the other hand, Turkey exported over 400 million dollars to Israel (Murinson 17).
As a way of enhancing diplomatic relationships, Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan visited Israel in 2005, together with a big fleet of businessmen. He vowed to act as a Middle East peace mediator, when he met the prime minister of Israel, Mr Ariel Sharon, and the president, Mr. Moshe Kartav. He assured the Israelites that he aimed at enhancing trade and military ties between the two countries. Later in November 2007, Shimmon Perez, Israeli president, paid a visit to the city of Ankara in Turkey, where he met his counterpart, Turkish president, Abdulahi Gul, and for the first time, Israeli president attended the national assembly of the country, whose majority were Muslims. During the visit, he mentioned about Iran’s nuclear weapon plan and warned that it was not only a threat to Israel, but also to the whole world. These entire attempts were aimed at entering into peaceful agreement and building unity in the Middle East (Murinson 18).
Before the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict, the two countries exchanged greatly military know-how and weapons. A good example is in 2007, when Turkey requested Israel to sell Israeli satellites and arrow missiles as a way of improving Turkish military capabilities and intelligence. The President ordered Israeli military companies to go and improve the F-4 phantom air force in Instanbul. Agreements were entered to exchange soldiers, military staff, and training knowledge, to make joint testing of military weapons and lastly to call for military visits in both countries. Other orders include Israeli help provided to Turkey to improve its m60A1 tanks and to sell Popeye-II and Popeye I weapons to the latter. Moreover, they were to exchange 8 times their pilots and all their naval soldiers to participate in the Operation Reliant Mermaid training. In addition, the two countries had also exchanged in the sphere of tourism and thousands of tourists flew from Tel Aviv to Istanbul in Turkey. No visa was required to fly between the two countries, hence their relationship progressed before 2008 (Nachmani 25).
In times of disaster, the two countries worked hard to help each other and had a good relationship. For example, in 1999, during the Izmit earthquake, which struck Turkey, Israel greatly helped the Turkish government by providing medical aid to the victims. It sent over 100 trained people to the country helping to save 17000 Turkish lives. Really, it’s said that this was the largest humanitarian aid provided by one country (Allen 17). On the other hand, Turkey on December 3, 2010, greatly helped Israel to extinguish fire, which was spreading to hectares of land on Mount Carmel. During the Nazi war, in the Rhodes Island, Turkish diplomats helped stranded Jews with visas and settled them in the Turkish territory. This led to the establishment of the Arkadas association, which aimed at preserving cultural relationships between Turkish and Jewish communities.
Regardless of the two countries enjoying good diplomatic, economic and cultural relationships, Gaza conflicts emerged in 2008-2009, which made the relationship between the two countries stammer. Initially, the Turkish government had been criticizing Israel over its move to the Palestinians, claiming Palestinian self-determination in1987, but this did not strike their relationships. In 2004, a minor conflict, which later subsided, occurred between the two states over the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, who was claimed to have been assassinated by Israel (Altabe 19).
Background of Gaza Conflicts (2008-2009)
The historical Gaza strip, which is a strip of land between Israel and Egypt, dates back to 1948-49. During these years, British colonialism left the Palestinian territory and Israel was declared independent. Most Palestinians run away from Jaffa and Beer-Sheba and settled in Gaza strip as refugees causing the area's population to triple. After several agreements had been signed, the area became under Egyptian military control (Brown 18). The Egyptian government rejected giving the Palestinians in the region citizenship. In 1967, Israel invaded in the Gaza strip, where the fight lasted for six days. It led to defeat of the Egyptians, and the territory fell under the Israelites. However, the United Nations Security Council passed a move for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the region under Section 242 of the organization. This led to the termination of the Arab-Israel war. In 1972, such Jewish communities as K’far-Darom were evacuated from the strip with others being resettled and re-established as paramilitary training out posts, particularly Nerahim and Morag.
In 1978, Israel and Egypt signed the David Camp Accord, in which the two countries entered into an agreement aimed at finding a lasting solution for the matters and ending their conflict completely. Several Jews started to settle in the area, and by 1980, it was dominated by Jewish community in full capacity. In 1994, the Jericho agreement was officially signed, and all IDF forces were moved out of the area. However, they had to keep watch on the Jewish settlement and borders between Israel and the Gaza strip. In 1995, Jihad Islamists and Hamas group carried out several suicidal bombing acts in the area forcing the Israelites to fence the area in order to enhance the protection of people. Later in the same year the Palestinians and the Israelites signed an agreement to end the conflict in the two areas, the West bank and the Gaza strip. In 2003, the Camp David meeting did not brought any results and what followed was a constant attack on the Jewish community in the region, where the IDF was forced to intervene and save the lives of innocent Israelites (Davis 19).
A curfew was imposed on all Palestinians. In addition to that, the government of Israel started a disengagement plan, according to which all Palestinians were to be moved out of the area by August 15. This was welcomed by the other nations with criticism, and many protests were held in all cities against Israel. In 2006, Israel evacuated all its military equipment from the Gaza strip to eliminate tension and to avoid conflict, but on November 26, the same year, several Palestinian militants crossed the Gaza strip and kidnapped one soldier, forcing Israel to hit back by using missiles and aircrafts. On the other hand, there were several rockets that had landed on their territory. Israel had started the operation on November 29, 2006 (Olson 29).
In 2007, the Palestinian war emerged between the Fatah and Hamas group, forcing the Fatah group defeat and drive out of the Gaza strip leaving Hamas in the territory, which did not recognize Israel. Thus, it led to the emergence of the 2008-2009 conflict that resulted in the relationship between Israel and other neighboring nations, especially Turkey. From May 2007, there were a series of warfare between Israel and Hamas. Hamas Palestinian group fired 220 Qassam homemade rockets on the city of Sderot and the western region of Negev forcing the Israeli Defense Forces to respond with full force retaliation. Israel used warplanes and missiles together with naval warship. As a result, it entered in the Palestinian region killing over 100 Hamas soldiers and wounding thousands of them. In addition to that, it also destroyed electricity, but some houses and other politicians were believed to aid Hamas in communication ‘with Israel’s enemies, such as Iran, who greatly funded and supplied ammunition to the groups. For the whole week, the Hamas group continued to fire rockets day and night to Israeli soldiers. It come to a notice that the war was engineered by political interest, where such countries as Iran, and great Israel enemies used to finance Hamas and Hezbollah purposely to eliminate Israel seen as a stumbling block to the country’s nuclear weapons. Egypt opportunistically put pressure on the United Nations calling for ceasing fire in the war, while, at the same time, the Hamas group continued to fire their rockets, causing Israel to respond fiercely (Nachmani 31).