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Time to end the 'cold war' between Turkey and Israel

With Iran nuclear talks stalled, Syria downing a Turkish fighter jet, and uncertainty following the Arab Spring, there has never been a more important time for Turkey and Israel to end their 'cold war.' They can begin with a compensation deal over the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling party at the Turkish parliament in Ankara June 26. The Turkish Armed Forces' rules of engagement have changed as a result of Syria shooting down a Turkish warplane, and they will respond to any violation on the Syrian border Mr. Erdogan said. Op-ed writers Michael J. Koplow and Brent E. Sasley comment: Rapprochement between Turkey and Israel could 'foster the possibility of an international consensus on Syria.'

Umit Bektas/Reuters

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The Middle East’s two strongest economic and military powers, Turkey and Israel, are no closer to mending their deteriorating relationship than two years ago, when Israeli commandos intercepted an aid flotilla, killing nine Turkish human rights activists aboard the Mavi Marmara.

But ties between the two need to be urgently reset – and can be – for the benefit of these former allies and for a region in turmoil.

An urgency to reconcile has been missing up until now, but outside events are conspiring to make the incentives for rapprochement stronger. With Iran nuclear talks at a stalemate, Syria on the brink of civil war and shooting down a Turkish fighter jet, growing instability in Lebanon, and lingering uncertainty following the Arab Spring, there has never been a more important time for these two historically friendly countries to end their 'cold war.'

A reconciliation between Turkey and Israel would bring many benefits. Turkey could return to its role as facilitator in Israeli-Arab peace talks and at the same time ease the distrust of Ankara in the US Congress. The popularity of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and of his country in the Arab world could help cushion Israel against the uncertainties of the Arab Spring.


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