Turkish-Israeli relations have seriously soured to an all-time low. In 2009, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stormed off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos after a spectacular exchange with the Israeli president over Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza. More tragically the infamous Flotilla Attack followed: an Israeli military raid on an international aid convoy to Gaza left nine Turkish peace activists dead. After the leak of the UN’s Palmer Commission report, which accused Israel of using “excessive force” against the flotilla but legitimized the Israeli blockade of Gaza, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and scaled back diplomatic relations. Added to this, Israel was quick to suggest that the AKP government was aligning Turkey with the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran instead of its strategic ally, Israel.
The Changing Dynamics of Turkey’s Relations with Israel: An Analysis of ‘Securitization’
The present study seeks to answer the following questions: How was it possible that a state such as Turkey, which had until then pursued a low-profile policy in the Middle East, has able to forge a bold strategic alliance with the state of Israel in the 1990s? Conversely then, why was the unparalleled and positive nature of relations in the 1990s replaced by a hostile and toxic nature in the first decade of the 2000s? How can this difference in the relations between the 1990s and 2000s be explained? To answer such questions, this article uses the Copenhagen School’s theory of securitization. This approach not only helps to illustrate the characteristics of different periods in Turkish-Israeli relations, it also helps to highlight the specificity of the politics of civil-military relations in foreign policy making.
The declaration of the UN report on the Flotilla Attack and Israel’s refusal to apologize for its flotilla raid changed the case and Turkey “suspended all military agreements” with Israel.
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