Since the ascension of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to power in Turkey in 2002, Turkish-Israeli relations have witnessed a gradual and persistent deterioration. A few years after the arrival of the AKP to power, the nature of the relationship between the two countries has shifted from one of friendly alliance-which had lasted for a decade prior to rise of the AKP-to a tense and estranged relationship, at least on the political level. This is especially true after the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. This aggression propelled the relations between the two countries into a new era that has been dominated by political tensions and increasingly sharp Turkish criticisms against the Israeli policy toward the Palestinian people and its occupied territories. Turkish leaders, most prominently Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have harshly and regularly attacked Israeli policies in recent years.
The year 2010 saw a further deterioration in the political relations between the two countries, after the Israeli army attacked the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla in international waters, killing nine Turkish citizens who were on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara. This aggression strongly shook Israeli-Turkish relations, bringing them into a new era of intensified political tension. After the Israeli attack, Turkey made three specific and clear demands to Israel: offer a formal apology to Turkey, pay compensations to the families of the Turkish victims, and lift the siege on the Gaza Strip. Turkey linked the future of relations between the two countries to Israel's response to these demands, affirming that if Israel did not fulfill these demands, Turkey would then take a number of retaliatory measures against Israel to punish it for murdering its nine citizens and for attacking the Freedom Flotilla in international waters.
This paper will present an analytic reading of the nature of Israel-Turkish relations in light of the three Turkish demands. It will analyze the different Israeli positions vis-à-vis the apology request and analyze the factors that have prompted Israel to abstain from apologizing to Turkey; finally, it will examine various scenarios for the future of Israeli-Turkish relations.
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* This article was translated by the ACRPS Translation and English Editing Department. The original Arabic version can be found here.