Commentary Magazine


Hezbollah Attack May Influence Talks Between Israel and Turkey

Haaretz is reporting that an Istanbul bombing previously credited to a Kurdish terrorist group was actually the work of Hezbollah. According to a story first reported in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the May attack was undertaken by the Lebanese Islamist terror group in a failed attempt to murder Israel’s consul general in the city. The explosion is believed to be in retaliation for the death of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran earlier this year.

This attack on Turkish soil may be one of several events convincing the Islamic government there a rapprochement with Israel may be in their strategic interest.

While sources in Ankara are denying Hezbollah is operating on their territory, this incident may have been part of a recent trend in which Turkey’s Islamic government has backed away from Iran and Syria in the wake of the Arab Spring protests. Turkey chose not to play any role in this year’s version of the anti-Israel flotilla to Gaza, and it has been alarmed by Syria’s military activities close to their southern border as the Assad regime tries to wipe out dissidents.

While a year ago it seemed as if Israel’s once close relationship with Turkey had collapsed in a wave of recriminations after several Turks were killed during the seizure of one of the flotilla ships, the two countries are cautiously moving back toward a more normal relationship. The Jerusalem Post is reporting that talks between the two countries are continuing as they attempt to settle the flotilla affair. Recent statements from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Israel must lift the blockade of Gaza in order to achieve a settlement of the dispute have complicated those talks. That is something Israel will not do, although it is willing to apologize for the loss of life provided such a statement will conclusively end the matter.

It is not clear whether Erdogan is posturing prior to making a deal. But the news about Hezbollah killers operating in Turkey may well be influencing the Turks to renew their alliance with Israel in order to protect itself against Iran and its terrorist allies.