Efraim Inbar is a Professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and the Director of its Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.

July 8, 2013 – RAMAT GAN, Israel:  Efraim Inbar, professor of political studies at Israeli’s Bar-Ilan University and the director of Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center), during a roundtable discussion on Turkish-Israeli relations on Tuesday said that if Turkey becomes more hostile towards Israel, the Jewish state may have to revise its position on Turkey’s Kurdish issue.

The Israeli professor, who also served in the Israel Defense Force (IDF), said relations between the two countries depended on Turkey’s attitude, while he accused Ankara of gaining popularity in the Arab world by “bashing” Israel.

“Israeli bashing brings the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] popularity in the Arab and Islamic world. Therefore, what Israeli does or does not do is not really important. [In terms of its effect on bilateral ties] the Israeli apology is irrelevant unless the AK Party changes its foreign policy goals,” he said during a discussion entitled “The Evolving Relations of Turkey and Israel” that was co-organized by Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF).

Criticizing the good ties between Turkey and Hamas, Inbar said if Turkey becomes hostile towards the Jewish state, the country may have to revise its position on the Kurdish issue. The Turkish government recently launched a settlement process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a bid to resolve the country’s longstanding terrorism problem. His remarks during the discussion were met with criticism from other parties attending the meeting. Renowned US writer Claire Berlinski condemned the Israeli expert for his remarks that suggested possible support for the PKK.

“If you are remotely interested in relations with Turkey or the US, which has declared the PKK a terrorist organization… you cannot say that. It is an idiotic thing to say in public,” she said.

Highlighting that what he said was not his own view and did not reflect official opinion, Inbar responded to Berlinski’s criticism by saying that Turkey also supports Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the EU and the US among others. The Israeli expert went on to claim that Turkey also gives support to radical Sunni groups fighting against regime forces in Syria. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Turkey expressed its support for the opposition in Syria, while denying any arms support for the opposition forces.

“Turkey is considered hostile because of its support to Hamas,” said Inbar as he criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for choosing to visit Hamas-ruled Gaza but not Ramallah, which is under the control of al-Fatah party that is regarded as the legitimate Palestinian authority. Speaking during the session, Kadri Gürsel, who is a columnist at the Turkish daily Milliyet and a contributor for Al-Monitor website, said that given the current state of Turkish-Israeli relations, Erdogan cannot visit Ramallah. According to Gürsel, Erdogan can only visit Gaza. But when a deal Erdogan made with US President Barack Obama is taken into consideration — that Erdogan will also visit Ramallah– Erdogan’s Gaza visit will be costly for Turkey as it will strain ties with the US.