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Turkey has for decades been a key ally of Israel. In 1949, Turkey was the first Muslim state to recognize Israel. Since that time, both Israel and Turkey have recognized the importance of this relationship, investing in diplomatic, military/security cooperation, and economic ties. While historically Israel and Turkey did not see eye-to-eye on every issue, they succeeded in placing the bilateral relationship above any disagreements. Unfortunately, in recent years this has changed. Tensions that came to the fore with the 2008 Gaza War and that have deepened since that time - particularly in the wake of the May 2010 Gaza flotilla debacle - today threaten to derail the Israel-Turkey relationship.

There is unease in Israel and among many supporters of Israel about Turkey, with a growing sense that Turkey's government is becoming more Islamist and is seeking to project power into the Middle East through improved relations with countries like Iran and Syria, through solidarity with Hamas, and through harsh criticism of Israel. In Turkey, there is a growing sense that Israel is deliberately seeking to undermine Turkey-Israel relations. The absence of a credible peace process that can deal with, among other things, the problems in Gaza, perpetuates the kind of crises that drive the escalation in Turkey-Israel tensions.

This erosion of the Israel-Turkey bilateral relationship has serious potential negative ramifications for Israel, threatening to deprive Israel of an important and politically powerful ally in the region - one who has, and in the future can, represent a bridge to the Arab and Muslim worlds. This erosion also threatens to harm US-Turkey relations, with potential negative ramifications for U.S. national security interests in the region, including its policies vis-à-vis Iraq, Iran and Syria.

APN believes it is vital to work to prevent further erosion of the Israel-Turkey alliance. We reject any efforts that could contribute to an erosion of U.S.-Turkish relations. We also urge Americans who care about Israel to help both Israel and Turkey by pressing the Obama Administration to show real leadership in addressing the situation in Gaza and in the effort to achieve Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace.

(Feb. 2011)