Middle East

Turkey-Israel relations: A timeline

Relations between two countries have been marked by ups and downs since creation of Jewish state in 1948

27.06.2016 - Update : 28.06.2016
Turkey-Israel relations: A timeline



Relations between Turkey and Israel have been characterized by ups and downs ever since Turkey officially recognized the Jewish state on March 28, 1949.

Bilateral ties came under particular strain in 2010 when Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip, in international waters.

The attack on the six civilian vessels, which had been trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, resulted in the death of nine Turkish citizens and left another 30 injured, one of whom succumbed to his injuries nearly four years later.

In the aftermath of the attack, Turkey demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed, and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade.

In 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his regret to Turkey’s then-prime minister (now president) Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the attack.

Months of talks between the two countries finally bore fruit on Monday, with Turkey announcing that a deal would be signed normalizing relations with Israel after a six-year hiatus.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two countries will exchange ambassadors, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said at a news conference at Ankara’s Cankaya Palace.

According to the deal, which is due to be signed Tuesday, Israel will pay a total of $20 million in compensation to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims.

"The families of our citizens who lost their lives in the Mavi Marmara incident will receive compensation in the amount of $20 million," Yildirim said.

In addition, he added, a Turkish ship bearing 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid destined for Gaza would set out for the Israeli port of Ashdod on Friday.

The prime minister stressed that both governments had a role to play in normalizing relations by fully implementing the agreement.

Turkish and Israeli negotiators met for a final round of talks in Rome on Sunday, according to a Turkish official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to media.

The official said Israel had accepted some of Turkey’s demands, including compensation for families of the Mavi Marmara victims and a Turkish humanitarian presence in the Gaza Strip, which since 2007 has remained under a crippling Israeli embargo.

The latter concession by Israel will allow Turkey to send humanitarian aid to the Palestinian enclave and embark on a number of infrastructure projects, including construction of a 200-bed hospital.

The following is a brief timeline of significant developments in Turkey-Israel relations since 1948:

May 14, 1948: Israel is established.

March 28, 1949: Turkey formally recognizes Israel.

1950: Turkey opens its first diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv.

1956: Israel invades Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and occupies the Suez Canal, after which Turkey downgrades its diplomatic representation to the level of charges d’affaires.

1963: Turkey’s diplomatic representation in Israel is upgraded to the level of consulate.

1967: Israel occupies large swathes of Arab territory, including Jerusalem. Turkey protests.

1969: A group of Jewish fanatics set fire to Jerusalem’s iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque.

1975: Turkey officially recognizes the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The UN General Assembly adopts a resolution defining Zionism as a form of racism.

1980: Turkish diplomatic representation in Israel upgraded to ambassadorial level.

1980: Israel annexes East Jerusalem and declares Jerusalem its capital. Turkey again reduces its level of diplomatic representation.

1986: Turkish diplomatic representation is upgraded to level of charges d’affaires.

1987: The first Intifada, or Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, begins. Turkey voices its support for the Palestinians.

1988: Turkey formally recognizes the state of Palestine, straining Ankara’s relations with Israel.

1991: The Middle East peace process begins. Turkish-Israeli relations improve.

1994-1998: Ankara and Tel Aviv sign a number of agreements in the fields of security, defense and economy.

2000: The Second Intifada begins after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visits Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Turkey-Israeli ties again come under strain.

2006: Israel attacks Lebanon, drawing a major protest from Turkey.

2008/2009: Israel attacks the blockaded Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians. Turkey condemns the offensive.

2009: At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Erdogan publicly shuns then-Israeli President Shimon Peres after the latter attempts to justify the attack on Gaza.

2010: Turkey suspends diplomatic relations with Israel in the wake of the deadly Mavi Marmara incident.

2013: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu voices regret for incident.

2016: Israel accepts Turkish preconditions for normalizing relations, including demands to compensate families of Mavi Marmara victims.

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