The rapidly worsening fall-out between these two allies could have serious repercussions for an already fragile Middle East
Employees from a Turkish-owned company in Israel protest against the recent tensions between the two countries outside the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv / Reuters
After Turkey's decision to suspend military ties with Israel, expel the country's ambassador, and now possibly to apply to the International Court of Justice for an investigation into Israel's Gaza blockade -- on account of Israel's refusal to apologize for last year's lethal attack on the Mavi Marmara, a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship -- it's difficult to decipher who, if anyone, might benefit from the current impasse. For Turkey, the breakup with Israel is another nail in the coffin of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's vaunted "zero problems" policy that, until recently, allowed the country to keep lines open with all sides of the Middle East's conflicts. For Israel, the potential loss of a crucial regional ally only deepens the country's isolation as it scrambles to come to terms with the Arab spring and its fallout. Among experts, there is some hope that the Turkey-Israel relationship could recover, if slowly. Yet there is also fear that it will deteriorate much further -- and quickly.
Not long ago, Turkey could rightfully claim to maintain open diplomatic relationships with practically everyone in the Middle East. But, as Soli Ozel, a professor of international relations at Istanbul's Bilgi University, told me, "those times are over." "Turkey is not going to have much of a role to play. It cannot replicate the Syrian-Israeli proximity talks, which it masterminded a few years ago." Same, he said, for the Israeli-Palestinian talks. "Turkey will probably be hailed by the Palestinians but it will isolate itself from the peace process, if the process ever comes back to life."