J Street welcomes the announcement of the full restoration of diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey. We have long supported a detente between the two countries during more than a decade of strained relations, and look forward to enhanced cooperation in a range of areas between Israel and a Muslim-majority nation of nearly 85 million people.
J Street also notes the Turkish government’s pledge to remain seized of issues related to the Palestinians and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Turkey has the potential to play a major positive role in improving the lives of Palestinians and moving both parties — as well as other actors in the region — toward a peaceful end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the occupation. As with other recent advances in ties between Israel and states in the region, it is critical that the process of normalization and cooperation be employed as a means of addressing the conflict and legitimate Palestinian grievances, not as an end-run around them.
We also hope that Israel, like the US government, will use strong diplomatic ties with Turkey to push back on its government’s anti-democratic behavior and rights abuses, including its crackdown on journalists, political opponents and the country’s Kurdish minority. For Israel, as with any other democracy, a closer relationship with Turkey should be used to press for improvement on these and related critical issues, not as an excuse to ignore them.