Following the Istanbul terror attacks, Turkish journalist Rafael Sadi and Israel’s Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara discussed the increased potential for improved Turkish-Israeli relations.

Ayoob Kara

Ayoob Kara Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Following the Istanbul terror attack that was orchestrated by ISIS that resulted in the slaughter of 4 people and the injury of 40 others, where 3 of the slain terror victims and 10 of the injured were Israeli citizens, JerusalemOnline interviewed Israel’s Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara and Turkish journalist Rafael Sadi in order to examine whether this terror attack will lead to the re-establishment of the close alliance that once existed between Israel and Turkey.

According to Sadi, he trusts JerusalemOnline sources that intelligence cooperation at the highest level has been renewed between the two countries: “As far as we know, Mr. Dore Gold and Mr. Feridun Sinirlioglu met yesterday to discuss this issue. I hope that they can solve the hard points and round up the sharp corners of the deal.”

Israel’s Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara regrets that it took a terror attack “to push negotiations for a relationship with Turkey but the point is that this gives more legitimacy for a compromise between the sides.” According to Kara, Turkey for a while has needed Israel, both economically and diplomatically: “They need us and we need them. Turkey’s exports to Israel is more than 3 million dollars per year. This is important for the economy of Israel and Turkey. Turkey uses us technologically. Israel is one of the best states for security and agriculture technology. Turkey needs that. We are close to them in the struggle to fight against terrorism. Of course, they have a big problem with Iran, ISIS and the extremists. Of course, they need a solution for that. A relationship with Israel can be a solution for fighting against the extremism.”

Sadi believes that now, maybe the Turks will not demand that Israel remove the Gaza blockade for there to be reconciliation: “Everybody knows that Israel will not agree to remove the Gaza blockade and the only thing to do is to allow the entry of more building and construction materials. There are not any restrictions to import to Gaza exempt for cement and some pipe types that can be used to produce qassam rockets and chemicals that can make bombs. Those items will remain under control always.”

For Turkey, Kara stressed that ISIS is the major problem now and implied that this changes the equation regarding Turkey’s demands for reconciliation: “In the past, it was different. Now, also the Kurds are not the problem like ISIS. The only thing standing in the way now is to stop the connection between Hamas and the Turks. If there is a solution for this point, there is no way there won’t be reconciliation.”

After a JerusalemOnline source revealed that he believes that ISIS attacked Turkey because of the renewed intelligence cooperation with Israel, Sadi offered a different explanation for ISIS’s motivations: “ISIS’s fight is against Muslims who believe in a different way of following the Sharia. Israel is not ISIS’s issue. The essential reason is not the alliance between Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia but rather that the war between Turkey and the Kurds damaged the financial interests of ISIS and they cannot transfer their oil to Turkey anymore. Everything is related to big money in this region and all of the money is coming from the black petrol.”

However, Kara has a different explanation for ISIS’s motivations: “The problem of the Sunnis in Islam is the extremism and their number one threat is ISIS. Before this terror attack in Istanbul, in the last election, Erdogan made a decision to attack ISIS for there is no way to succeed in the election if he is close to them. He attacked them every day for three months. He changed the reality for them. He was in a big conflict with ISIS. The Turkish street is not supporting ISIS. This is the issue and nothing else.”

When asked about the public sentiment in Turkey following the Istanbul terror attack, Kara proclaimed that the main thing is the leadership: “They sent condolences to all the families. This was a first in many years. They are trying to cooperate and to bring back the relationship to what it was in the past. Most of the citizens are against the terrorism and ISIS. They need to continue fighting. Erdogan and Davutoglu delivered messages against the terror. This is very important. This did not happen in the past.”

“In the past, the leadership in Turkey did not understand the ISIS danger,” Kara explained. “They thought that this gives power to the Turks. At last, they understand very well that the population doesn’t need these extremes and they will lose if they go for the extremists. They have a problem with the Kurds but they are beginning to understand more and more that ISIS is a problem for the Turkish population. This extremism is a greater problem than the Kurds. They understand that Turkey has a big problem and took unnecessary steps. I think we will be close to them quickly after these attacks in Istanbul.”

According to Sadi, on the streets of Turkey, most of the men and women are unhappy: “And they are mostly blaming the government for these shocking deaths. The explosions are unacceptable for both the Kurds and Turks. But the Turkish people are divided into two main groups: the normal people and the abnormal people. The normal people look at the Jews and Israelis as similar to themselves. There are some among the normal people who think we kill Muslims in Palestine and robbed the Muslims of Jerusalem but they still don’t support killing Jewish people. The second part consisting of the Islamist groups is dangerous. We must be very careful and to stay away from them.”