Timeline of Turkish-Israeli Relations, 1949–2006
1949 March 28: Turkey is among the first countries to recognize the state of Israel. 1958 August 29: Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion and Turkish prime minister Adnan Menderes meet secretly to form the basis for their nations’ partnership, agreeing upon the “peripheral pact.” This pact would involve joint public-relations campaigns to influence the citizens in each nation, an exchange of intelligence information, and support of each other’s military advancements. 1967 June: Turkey joins the community of Arab nations in condemning Israeli gains in the Six-Day War and calling for Israel’s withdrawal from the lands it occupied after the war. Turkey abstains, however, from signing on to a clause referring to Israel as an “aggressor state.” 1969 September 25: Turkey opposes the conclusion of the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting held in Rabat, Morocco, which calls for a break in diplomatic relations with Israel. 1979 October: Yasser Arafat travels to Ankara to open a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office. 1980 December 3: Turkey announces its plan to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel to a symbolic level—with duties performed by a “second secretary”—citing Israel’s continued “unconciliatory” policy on Middle East problems. The Turkish foreign ministry spokesman, Oktay Iscen, says that Israel was notified of the decision on November 26, and stresses that the “second secretary” representation will commence on a “reciprocal” basis. 1985 • Israel appoints Yehuda Millo, a diplomat with minister-counselor rank, as charge d’affaires to Turkey. 1986 September: Turkey appoints Ekrem Guvendiren, a diplomat with ambassadorial rank, as its “second secretary” in Tel Aviv. Guvendiren takes up the appointment on September 5. September 6: Two men described as Arabs enter the Neve Shalom synagogue in Istanbul during Sabbath prayers and fire submachine guns and detonate grenades, killing at least twenty-one of the thirty worshippers.
© 2006 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
• Turk Hava Yollari (Turkish Airlines) begins direct flights between Israel and Turkey. 1987 September: The Turkish and Israeli foreign ministers meet at the UN General Assembly. December: The first Palestinian intifada begins. Turkey makes several statements “denouncing Israeli oppression and supporting the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.” 1988 November: Turkey recognizes the existence of a Palestinian state, becoming the first nation with diplomatic relations with Israel to do so. When Israel issues a protest to the Turkish representative in Ankara, Turkey refrains from granting full diplomatic status to the PLO representative. 1989 • Moris Amitay, a former member of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, is hired to support Turkey in lobbying the U.S. Senate to defeat a draft resolution denouncing the alleged massacre of Armenians by the Turks during World War II. 1990 • Estimates for yearlong trade volume between the two countries run from $100 to $150 million. (Israeli exports to Turkey account for about 70 percent of this figure.) 1991 December: Both nations restore full ambassadorial relations. 1992 April: The two nations’ defense ministries sign a document on principles for cooperation. May: Turkey takes part in the Arms Control and Regional Security (ACRS) meetings for the Middle East as an extraregional partner, Israel as a full participant. June: “Normalization” with Israel proceeds forward after Turkish tourism minister Abdulkadir Ates signs a treaty facilitating tourism between the two countries. July: Israeli president Chaim Herzog visits Istanbul. October: Bilgin Unan, the Turkish foreign ministry’s deputy undersecretary, visits Israel. • Turkish and world Jewry commemorate the 500th anniversary of the official welcome extended to the Jews by the Ottoman Empire. 1993 March: The Turkish-Israeli Business Council is established. April: Israeli...
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