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Turkish Involvement in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

1903- By 1903, there were about 25,000 Zionist immigrants in what was then part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The Zionist movement, founded in 1896, aimed to establish a Jewish state in response to European anti-Semitism.

1918- WWI ended and the Turkish Ottoman Empire fell when Arab and British forces drove out the Ottomans. At this time, Britain and France divide the former Ottoman Empire and as per the 1917 Balfour Declaration, Britain commits to "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

1923- Kemal Ataturk forms the modern state of Turkey when the Ottoman Empire falls, establishing a secular republic and removing all Islamic government or government-run institutions. The drastic transformation from a Muslim sultanate to a secular republic was made possible by the Turkish military and Western support. Ever since, the Turkish military has been wary of growing Islamism.

1925- Turkey and Egypt establish diplomatic relations.

1929-1936- Hundreds of thousands of Jews emigrate to British Mandate Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s, creating tensions between the Zionists and the local Arab community. In 1929, violent clashes ensue between the Arabs and the Zionists, and again in 1936. -Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Turkey serves as a haven for Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

1937- The Peel Commission recommends a partition of British Mandate Palestine into separate Jewish and Palestinian states. This is rejected by the Arabs, who want a unified state with protected minority rights and demand an end to immigration.

1949- Turkey becomes the first Muslim majority country to recognize the State of Israel.

1952- Suspicious of the intentions of its neighbor, the Soviet Union, Turkey joins NATO. This strategic alliance paves the way for further Turkish cooperation with the the West in years to come.

1955- Turkey signs the Baghdad Pact with Iraq, straining its ties with Israel.

1956- Syria and the Soviet Union accuse Turkey of troop buildup at the Syrian border as Syria aligns itself with the Soviets. Turkey recalls its minister from Israel after Israel takes the Sinai Peninsula. However, Turkey resists Arab pressure to sever all diplomatic relations with Israel.

1967- While Turkey was not involved in the Six Day War fought between Israel and Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, it served to arouse anti-Israeli sentiment among some of the Turkish public. Turkey calls for "the establishment of a just and lasting peace," denouncing Israeli occupation of Arab land after it won the war.

1973- Turkey refuses to allow US cargo planes to carry supplies to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, but allows Russian convoys passage through Turkey and into Syria.

1987- Turkey denounces Israeli oppression and supports Palestinian self-determination.

1986 Jewish worshipers at a synagogue in Istanbul are attacked by Arab gunmen, killing 19. The act is immediately condemned by the Turkish prime minister.

1990- Turkey sides with the US-led coalition against Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait. Turkey does not formally join the coalition, but shuts down major Iraqi fuel pipelines that travel through Turkey and deploys thousands of troops along its border with Iraq. Turkey also gains use of Turkish military air bases. Turkey's cooperation with the US helped to strengthen ties with its fellow NATO allies. However, following the war, hundreds of thousands of Kurds flee to Turkey and Iran. This creates a refugee problem that persists to this day.

1991- The Madrid Conference aimed to achieve peace treaties between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, with the Palestinian delegation also attending.

1993- After the Oslo Accords (a framework for future relations between the PLO and Israel) and a peace agreement between Israel and Jordan (both resulting from the Madrid Conference), Arab-Israeli relations began to improve. Thus, Turkish-Israeli relations improved as well because Turkey faced less pressure from its Arab neighbors to distance itself from Israel.

1996- Israel and Turkey sign a military agreement entailing cooperation between all military branches and each others' weapons industries.

2000- Israel and Turkey sign a free-trade agreement. Israel and Turkey also sign a multi-billion dollar project to build fuel pipelines between the two countries.

2002- Turkish-Israeli relations begin to strain under the election of the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development (AKP) Party.

2003- The Arkadas Association, a Turkish-Jewish cultural center, is established in Israel in order to preserve Turkish-Jewish heritage and promote goodwill between the countries. - March- Turkish Parliament rejects a decree to allow US troops to launch the invasion of Iraq from Turkey. However, Turkey agreed to let the US use the Turkish Incirlik base as a "logistic hub," banning the transport of lethal weapons through the base.

2004- Turkey condemns the Israeli assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and denounces Israel's policy in Gaza.

2005- Turkey and Egypt sign a free trade agreement.

2006- Khaled Meshal, newly elected leader of Hamas, visits Turkey, creating tensions between Israel and Turkey.

2007- Israeli President Shimon Peres meets with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, speaks before the Turkish parliament, and becomes the first Israeli President to address a Muslim majority country's parliament. Within a day of Peres's appearance, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the Turkish Parliament. Both discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ahead of the of the 2007 Mideast peace conference.

2008- Turkey hosts indirect talks between Israel and Syria, in which the return of the Golan Heights is discussed. The potential peace deal resulting from these talks was thwarted by conflict between Israel and Gaza. In December, Israel begins an extensive military campaign to stop rocket fire from militants in Gaza. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan becomes one of the harshest critics of Israeli conduct during the Gaza War. - April - Egypt and Turkey sign an agreement to improve military relations and cooperation.

2009- January - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan walks out of the World Economic Forum in Davos when debate on the Gaza War turns heated. -April- The US reaches out to Turkey in hopes that it will play a role in helping the US end the Iraq War.

2010- May 31- The Turkish humanitarian aid ship, Mavi Mamara, bound for Gaza in an attempt to break Israel's blockade, is intercepted by IDF commandos. Nine people are killed, including 7 Turks. Turkish leaders are outraged and a major crisis in Israeli-Turkish relations ensues, with widespread condemnation from the international community. - June 9- The UN Security Council (led by the US) seeks to impose new sanctions against Iran because of its intransigence in cooperating with the IAEA and ending its uranium enrichment program. Turkey votes against the sanctions, along with Brazil.


1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/v3_ip_timeline/html/1947.stm 2. http://new.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=167274 3. http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/world/11066412.asp?gid=244 4. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6044312.ece 5. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/davos/7859417.stm 6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_Turkey#Middle_East_and_North_Africa 7. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0020_0_20109.html

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