The Mess in the Middle East
Turkey and Israel to Restore Diplomatic Ties

Turkey will restore full diplomatic recognition with Israel after half a decade of animosity. The New York Times reports:

A senior Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the reconciliation deal had not been finalized, said that Israel would create a compensation fund for the families of those killed on the Mavi Marmara. The Israeli news media reported that the compensation would be about $20 million, but Emmanuel Nahshon, a spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the amount had not been set.

Turkey, in turn, would drop criminal charges it has filed against Israeli officers and agree to prevent a leader of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza, from entering Turkey. Israel has accused the Hamas leader, Saleh al-Arouri, of orchestrating attacks against Israelis in the West Bank from a base in Turkey.

The two countries would also return ambassadors to each other’s capitals and would discuss building a pipeline to bring natural gas from Israel to Turkey, the Israeli official said.

The Turkey-Israel kiss and make up shows us two things. First, Turkey’s worries about Russia are again pushing it toward the West. This is a pattern that is several centuries old and that led, among other things, to British and French support for Turkey in the 19th century and Turkey’s entrance into NATO in the 20th. It continues now in the 21st.

Second, Israel’s gas reserves are giving the country new regional clout, as we have been predicting they would for some time. And along with Israel’s recent cooperation on a Red Sea-Dead Sea canal with Jordan, that comes as promising news for the regional economy and for peace.

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