Blockade of the Gaza Strip
Speaking to a group reporters travelling with him to Saudi Arabia on the last day of 2015, President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an surprised many with his statements on Israel. "Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region. And we too must accept that we need Israel.
"Turkey-Israel relations will normalize soon." These words were uttered by a high-level Turkish official with whom I had a tête-à-tête this week in Ankara. His statement gains much more weight in light of the fact that he is someone who is following the Turkey-Israel talks very closely.
Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Bülent Tüfenkçi said Dec. 25 that if an agreement with Israel was reached after five years of tense relations, it would allow Turkish products to enter Gaza more easily.
Answering questions at a news conference with members of the Economy Correspondents' Association, Tüfenkçi said Tel Aviv would allow Turkish products to enter Gaza.
The latest example of how foreign policy has been "instrumentalized" and put in the service of shallow domestic political considerations in Turkey comes from Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).
The thaw in Turkish-Israeli relations has climbed to the top of the agenda in terms of foreign policy and domestic affairs. It was just the opposite of previous talks when Turkey set out the conditions; this time, Israel is playing the "Hamas" card. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reluctant to make any agreements as long as Turkey's support for Hamas continues.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby welcomed Dec. 21 a potential agreement between Israel and Turkey to improve the tense relations which have been simmering for more than five years.
"We've seen reports of a potential agreement between Israel and Turkey to restore diplomatic relations," said Kirby during a daily press briefing on Dec. 21.