The victory of the coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu in the "Israeli" elections recently came a few days after the restoration of Turkish-"Israeli" relations, and the reappointment of an ambassador for each of them to the other, which raised questions about Netanyahu's position on the restored relations and the chances of continuing this path that began and was completed in his absence.

Cautious convergence

Relations between Turkey and the occupation state deteriorated after Turkey withdrew its ambassador in Tel Aviv and declared the Israeli ambassador persona non grata in May 2018, in protest against the occupation killing dozens of Palestinians participating in the return marches, as well as the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

However, Turkey sought later, and since the end of 2020, to improve its relations with a number of regional parties with which its relations have witnessed tension and decline over the past years, including Israel. However, the path of rapprochement with the latter was not as easy as Ankara expected due to the "Israeli" security and military establishment's skepticism about the president's intentions. Al-Turki and his goals of developing relations with it.

 The Turkish statements made regarding relations with "Israel" satisfies the latter to a minimum, starting with keenness to develop and strengthen them, passing through "taking into account each side's sensitivities."

After multiple signals from Ankara about its desire to improve relations, the first contact was by phone between Erdogan and his "Israeli" counterpart Herzog a whole year ago, that is, in November 2021. Over a full year, communication between the two sides was repeated in the form of phone calls between Erdogan on the one hand and Herzog Lapid and Bennett, on the other hand, culminated in Herzog's visit to Ankara and his meeting with Erdogan last March, followed by a visit by each party's foreign minister to the other.

At the end of the year, Erdogan met Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations meetings, before appointing an ambassador for each party to the other, then Erdogan received Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Ankara.

Netanyahu, with his personality, statements, and policies, was an obstacle to the progress of relations between the two sides, and Ankara held him and his government responsible for the decline in relations with it.

Therefore, his loss in the elections last year was an opportunity for Ankara to seek to improve relations, and he does not have good relations with the Turkish president, who attaches special importance to the personal dimension between politicians.

Rather, it is possible to say that the two sides deliberately exchanged ambassadors and stabilized the course of relations between them before the last Knesset elections, in an effort to build a fait accompli that would be difficult to undo in anticipation of Netanyahu’s victory, which was what was.

Will Netanyahu, after his victory in which he nominates him to form the government, back down from the path of rapprochement with Ankara?

Netanyahu win

This does not seem likely. Rather, it is expected that the path of rapprochement between the two sides will continue, albeit at a different pace.

For its part, Turkey does not hide its desire to promote rapprochement with "Israel" after Netanyahu's victory, as stated by the Turkish president in his first statement after the announcement of the preliminary results of the elections.

On the other hand, it does not seem that the developments of the Palestinian issue - or in other words, the occupation's policies against the Palestinians - will be an obstacle to the continuation of relations, after Erdogan spoke about the separation between his country's relations with "Israel" and its policies against the Palestinians.

It cannot be said that Ankara is happy with the results of the recent Israeli elections.

This is evident in the Turkish president's statement immediately after the elections, which was devoid of any congratulations to Netanyahu (the congratulations came days later), and in Erdogan's own reception of "Israeli" Defense Minister Benny Gantz just days before the elections, which can be read as an attempt to boost his chances in it.

However, this does not mean Ankara's asceticism in developing relations. Rather, it can be said that the Turkish president has thrown the ball into Netanyahu's court after he expressed his country's adherence to the path.

On the other hand, there is something different in the path of developing relations between the two sides this time from the previous ones, and foremost of that is that it comes under a Turkish path of calm and rapprochement with more than one regional party, and after the normalization agreements between the occupation and a number of Arab countries, and without the implementation of any party to the conditions of the other side, and in light of the clear state of instability in the occupying state, which indicates that the current rapprochement is likely to be more stable and longer-lasting than its predecessors.

One of the manifestations of this difference is Erdogan's sending a congratulatory message to him on winning the elections.

On the third hand, Netanyahu returns to power in completely different circumstances from his previous premiership, specifically with regard to the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Relations with Russia and the personal dimension with Putin are far from the previous period, and the war and the US position on it, as well as the position of the occupying power supporting Ukraine, do not leave wide spaces for maneuver in front of Netanyahu.

In addition to the above, some tracks of cooperation or files of common interest between the two sides, foremost of which is the Russian-Ukrainian war (again), the Syrian issue, the Iranian file, and eastern Mediterranean gas. Perhaps this explains the coincidence of the visit of the Azerbaijani Defense Minister to Ankara with Gantz’s visit to it.

Although Turkey, through its foreign minister, reiterated its rejection of the occupying state's condition for developing relations, represented in the expulsion of Palestinian leaders that the latter claims to reside there and work against it from its territory;

This did not prevent her from being received by the "Israeli" Minister of Tourism, a few days after the elections, with no hidden significance.

Also, the Turkish statements issued regarding relations with "Israel" satisfies the latter to a minimum, starting with keenness to develop and strengthen them, passing through "taking into account each party's sensitivities," and not ending with Erdogan's statement regarding the separation between relations with Tel Aviv and its policies and practices. Against the Palestinians, although the last statement carries two apparently contradictory meanings.

Because these statements include a new variable for Ankara that did not exist in the past, as the deterioration of relations between the two sides during the era of justice and development, in 2010 and then in 2018, was directly linked to the occupation policies towards the Palestinians.

This means that the relations between the two sides will be stronger in the foreseeable future than they were previously on the one hand, and that Turkey's position on the Palestinian issue in general and the resistance factions in particular is open to possibilities of relative change in the future.

In addition to all of the above, as practical evidence, the phone call between Erdogan and Netanyahu after the latter was officially assigned to form the government in "Israel", which came on his initiative to offer condolences for the attack that took place in the Taksim area in Istanbul, during which Erdogan congratulated him on his victory in the elections again.

Erdogan said in the call to Netanyahu that the relationship between the two sides "has entered a new stage thanks to the strong will they have shown," and that there is a common interest in "continuing and strengthening relations on a sustainable basis, based on mutual interests and on the basis of each party's consideration for the other's sensitivities."

Therefore, in conclusion, there does not seem to be a fundamental reason that will push Netanyahu to back down from the step of exchanging ambassadors, let alone for Ankara to do so, and therefore the course of relations between the two sides is not a candidate for retreat, interruption or estrangement.

It does not seem that the development of Israel's relations with Turkey faces real objection from Greece, especially since officials in the former have confirmed more than once that it is not a substitute for special relations with the latter, neither politically nor with regard to eastern Mediterranean gas.

However, on the other hand, Netanyahu will not be as enthusiastic as others in Tel Aviv regarding relations with Turkey, especially with regard to the direct relationship with Erdogan, such as Herzog, Lapid, Bennett and Gantz.

Therefore, the relations between the two sides will likely remain at their current level, with the possibility of a slow gradual development, as long as there are no major sudden developments, especially on the level of the Palestinian issue.