Turkish-Israeli relations: ‘the golden years’, 1991–2000

Dr. Jonathan Ghariani, a visiting post-doc scholar at MDC, published an article in "Israel Affairs" about the relations between Israel and Turkey during the 1990s.


"In 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim country to formally recognize Israel. Initially, relations were limited to trade and transportation; a partnership to counter the United Arab Republic’s pan-Arab influence in the region. Diplomatic relations would cool however, following Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. By 1994, Turkey no longer had any illusion that the post-Gulf War Middle East would be a peaceful region. By early 1996, the alliance between Israel and Turkey had reached an all-time high with the signing of an agreement on military cooperation and training, followed by a second one in defence, research and development, and technology transfer. Throughout the second half of the 1990s, the Turkish military continued to oversee foreign and defence policy, which remained firmly tied to the West. The Israeli-Turkish alliance was also viewed as a critical buffer against Syria and Iran, sponsors of terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, with Syria also backing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The strategic connection with Israel was so valued that when former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan mulled rapprochement with Iran, the military forced him to resign, resulting in a more pro-western government."