Turkey and Israel are currently in negotiations to normalize their diplomatic relations, which have been frozen since the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid when Israeli special forces killed 10 Turkish nationals on a ship carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Although reciprocal talks were reportedly kept behind the scenes since the diplomatic tensions began, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's statement openly giving a green light to such efforts for the first time since the Mavi Marmara raid hit the headlines. Considering Israel's isolation and plans to transfer Israeli natural gas to Europe, the situation is ripe for normalizing ties with Turkey, which sees this move as a step to contribute to the Palestinian cause and to gain a fresh ally in the troubled region.Turkey's being hit with two recent terror attacks in its capital and at the heart its economy within a week has become an opportunity for the two countries to establish closer contacts with each other. While Israel has for the first time condemned the March 13 Ankara bombing at the prime ministerial level after a long wait, Erdoğan conveyed his condolences to his Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for the three Israeli citizens killed in the DAESH suicide attack on Istanbul's İstiklal Avenue last week. With Rivlin's calling Erdoğan in the first high-ranking official contact for some time, the incidents have paved the way for the two countries to re-establish closer ties.
Photos archived in Israel's Government Press Office
Israel's first President Haim Weizman (L) and Seyfullah Esin, the first Turkish envoy to Israel after the accredition ceremony in Rehovot on July 3, 1950.
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy (L) shaking hands with his Turkish counterpart Tansu Çiller after signing an agreement during his visit to Ankara on April 9, 1997.
During Turgut Özal's time as prime minister between 1983 and 1991, Turkey managed to juggle ties with the Palestinians and Israel. Despite condemning the Sabra and Shatilla Massacres that occurred in 1982 and establishing good relations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the growing threat from the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and the PKK starting a conflict that would continue for more than three decades led to a turning point in security and intelligence cooperation with Israel. Even with right-wing Likud as the ruling party of Israel, none would be worse off for keeping this level of cooperation.
Furthermore, Israel starting a peace process with the Arabs in the 1991 Madrid and 1993 Oslo Accords was welcomed by Turkey and encouraged Ankara to take more solid steps to develop relations. Following the two countries' presidents' reciprocal visits, both the Military Training and Cooperation Agreement and the Defense Industrial Cooperation Agreement were signed in 1996, paving the way for annual meetings between the two countries' intelligence officials, especially regarding handling the PKK. As a symbolic figure of the army at the time, Deputy Chief of Staff Çevik Bir with Israel Defense Ministry Director-General Major General David Ivri, who were the pioneers of these bolstered ties. This cooperation reached a peak with the capture of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in 1999 thanks to help from Israel's Mossad.Decline of the golden era in relations amid Israeli aggression