Over the weekend, Israeli and Turkish travelers alike, who traveled to Turkey and Israel, respectively, were detained, delayed and questioned, largely as a result of continuing tensions. Additionally, Israelis rely heavily on Turkish Airlines on a multitude of routes in order to save money. Consequently, they worry not only about having to pay much more for air travel, but also being treated poorly while in Turkey. And Turks have the same feelings about travel to Israel.
COMMENT: A United Nations report released last week said Israel's naval blockade of Gaza was a "legitimate security measure," but also described the raid on the flotilla that attempted to break the blockade as "excessive and unreasonable." It also said Turkey and the flotilla organizers contributed to the bloodshed. Israel has accepted the U.N. report, albeit with reservations. Turkey has rejected it, largely because Turkey had wanted the U.N. to criticize Israel more strongly. Turkey has not imposed a trade embargo on Israel, but has suspended ongoing defense projects and purchases from Israeli defense firms.
It is unclear what impact the Turkish decision to scale back economic ties will be. Israeli defense officials said there have not been any new agreements since 2008, just before relations began to deteriorate.
At its height in the late 1990s, Israel exported to Turkey billions of dollars worth of tanks, unmanned aircraft and military technology. Turkey is also a top business partner and tourist destination for Israelis.
Another concern for both Israel and the West is what the ramifications might be if Turkey becomes much less secular, given a new alliance between Turkey and a post-Mubarak Egypt that is influenced heavily by the Muslim Brotherhood and a potential leaning of Egypt to embrace Sharia law. Unfortunately, the only beneficiaries in a continued discourse between Turkey and Israel will be Egypt and Iran.