Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister has given an optimistic forecast for the ongoing efforts for reconciliation between his country and Israel.
Bülent Arınç is quoted in today’s Ma’ariv saying that “Turkey welcomes full normalization and returning relations between the two countries to what they were before.” Globes gives an outline of his comments in English.
Arınç went on to say: “I expect the talks to succeed.” He added: “Normalization of Turkish-Israeli relations will improve the chances for peace in the region.”
Arınç’s optimism is refreshing, because the rapprochement process is meant to start in earnest next week and the atmosphere in recent days has seemed far from the optimism felt a few weeks ago when Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdogan a few weeks ago to reopen the channel of communication. But what is unclear is how Erdogan’s travel plans fit in with this picture.
Currently, when he visits Palestinians in May Erdogan plans to snub the West Bank, which is governed by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, and go only to Hamas-ruled Gaza. This has infuriated the Palestinian Authority, which feels it is being sidelined, and Israel, which feels that Erdogan is giving legitimacy to a terrorist regime instead of the would-be Palestinian partner for peace.
Israel will also take the view that if Erdogan is serious about making nice, when he’s in the region he really should drop in on the people who he’s in the middle of making nice with, with a brief visit to Jerusalem.
Will Erdogan complete the reconciliation process with Israel while planning a visit to her region that snubs both its leaders and the PA? Expect wrangling over itineraries, not just compensation, at next week’s reconciliation talks.