WikiDrips: Turkey’s PM is to blame for deteriorating ties


"Deteriorating ties between Tel Aviv and Ankara are “attributable exclusively” to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hatred of Israel, U.S. and Israeli diplomats agreed, according to a confidential cable by the U.S. embassy," Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reports in a dispatch about material in the WikiLeaks trove.

The cable sent last year was one of the U.S. State Department documents released late Sunday by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. In it, Israel’s ambassador to Ankara Gabby Levy blames Erdoğan for the hostilities, an assessment with which the United States expresses agreement.

“Levy dismissed political calculation as a motivator for Erdoğan’s hostility, arguing the prime minister’s party had not gained a single point in the polls from his bashing of Israel,” former U.S. Ambassador to Ankara James Jeffrey said in the cable dated Oct. 27, 2009, about his talks with the Israeli ambassador. “Instead, Levy attributed Erdoğan’s harshness to deep-seated emotion.”

The U.S. diplomat quoted Levy as saying of the Turkish prime minister: “He’s a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously.”

In his own comments, Jeffrey, who left Ankara in July to become ambassador to Baghdad, then said in the cable: “Our discussions with contacts both inside and outside of the Turkish government on Turkey’s deteriorating relations with Israel tend to confirm Levy’s thesis that Erdoğan simply hates Israel.”

According to the U.S. ambassador, “Levy cited a perceived anti-Israeli shift in Turkish foreign policy, including the Turkish government’s recent elevation of its relations with Syria and its quest for observer status in the Arab League.”

In another confidential cable dated Jan. 20, 2010, and titled “What lies beneath Turkey’s new foreign policy,” Jeffrey said Ankara’s foreign policy had “Rolls Royce ambitions, but Rover resources.”

“Despite their success and relative power, the Turks really can’t compete on equal terms with either the United States or regional leaders – the European Union in the Balkans, Russia in the Caucasus/Black Sea, [and] Saudis, Egyptians and even Iranians in the Middle East,” he said…

In another cable dated Jan. 26, 2010, and labeled “secret,” written as a scene-setter for U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ upcoming Turkey visit, Jeffrey predicted the Turkish-Israeli relationship would continue to suffer.

“While the Foreign Ministry and the Turkish General Staff agree with us that a strong Turkey-Israel relationship is essential for regional stability, Prime Minister Erdoğan has sought to shore up his domestic right flank through continued populist rhetoric against Israel and its December 2008 Gaza operation,” he said. “Erdoğan is likely to continue anti-Israel remarks and the issues will continue to cast a shadow on the Turkish-Israeli bilateral relationship.”

JTA is keeping a running blog on items in the WikiLeaks cables of interest, concern or entertainment to Jews. Please send in your own drips to For an index of all we’ve found so far, click here.

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