A majority of Israelis support an Israeli apology to Turkey as part of a broader agreement


A majority of Israelis believe that Israel should take action in order to improve relations with Turkey, including the issuing of an apology on operational mistakes that took place during the flotilla takeover, as part of an agreement between the two countries. Most Israelis think that the Israeli government is not doing enough to improve relations with Turkey, and believe that doing such will assist Israel’s international campaign against Iran.


The following are the results of a public opinion poll of Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute between August 23rd and 26th among 500 men and women, as a representative sample of the Israeli adult population (Jewish and Arab sectors). Margin of error is 4.5%. The poll was carried out prior to a policy summit between Mitvim and the (Turkish) Global Political Trends (GPoT) Center that will take place in Turkey in September 2012.


The summit will deal with the consequences of the Arab Spring, the crisis in Syria, and relations between Turkey and Israel, as well as prospects for mending the ties between the two countries. It will be an extraordinary opportunity for policy dialogue between Israeli and Turkish think tanks, at a time in which many dialogue channels between the countries have been put on hold.


The following are the man findings of the public opinion poll.


1) Approximately 8 out of 10 Israelis (79% of those with an opinion) think that Israel should take action in order to improve ties with Turkey in light of the instability in the Middle East, specifically in Syria.


2) A majority of the public (59% of those with an opinion) thinks that the Israeli government is not doing enough in order to improve Israeli-Turkish relations. About one-third of the respondents did not state an opinion.


3) A majority of the public (54% of those with an opinion) would support an agreement that will include an Israeli apology regarding the flotilla incident, as well as the renewal of full diplomatic ties, the renewal of security coordination between Israel and Turkey, and a Turkish commitment to refrain from filing lawsuits against IDF soldiers.


4) A majority of the public (60% of those with an opinion) thinks that improving the relations with Turkey will assist Israel in its international campaign against Iran. Almost one-quarter of the respondents did not state an opinion.


5) A majority of the public (53% of those with an opinion) will be ready to return and visit Turkey if relations with Israel will be mended (49% of the Jewish population will be ready to visit, and 84% of the Arab population).


6) Between 48% and 67% of the Arab population did not state opinions regarding Israel-Turkey relations. Those with an opinion significantly support improving relations, including an Israeli apology. In contrast to the Jewish population, there is a slight majority among Arabs that think that improving relations with Turkey will not assist Israel in its international campaign against Iran.





According to Dr. Nimrod Goren, Chairman of Mitvim, the results show that “the Israeli public is not willing to take Israel’s growing regional isolation for granted anymore, and believes that despite the efforts to portray Turkey as a radical regional player, Israel can and should act to improve its relations with it, in light of the changes in the Middle East.”


“The willingness to apologize to Turkey as part of a reconciliation agreement,” claims Dr. Goren, indicates a growing understanding in Israel that foreign-policy should be determined by national interests, and not by considerations related to pride, as claimed last year by the Foreign Minister. We currently face a genuine opportunity to mend relations with Turkey, based on the reconciliation agreement that was drafted in 2011. According to the poll’s result, the content of this agreement is currently supported by a majority of the Israeli public. This was not the case a year ago.”


Dr. Goren concluded by stating that “Israel should identify the opportunities posed by the Arab Spring, take part in the reshaping of the Middle East, and change its pro-status quo policy towards the Arab Spring. Israel should maintain, and even expand, its ability to engage in dialogue with its surrounding region. Mending ties with Turkey, as well as making progress in the Israeli-Palestinian track, will play a major role in enabling this to happen.”




Mr. Kamal Hassan, a Policy Fellow at Mitvim, responded to the fact that most of the Arab respondents did not state an opinion regarding Israel-Turkey relations, and claimed that “the poll’s results reflect a growing tendency of Israel’s Arab sector to detach itself from Israeli public affairs. This is a worrisome trend. Israel’s Arab population is usually one that is involved and opinionated. I think that the responses in the poll reflect a basic unwillingness to take part in the debate, rather than a lack of opinion. The Arabs in Israel do not have a sense of belonging to the Israeli discourse, and do not feel that they are given the space to make an impact and to be involved. This is especially true in the field of foreign policy.”


“Today, there are no prominent public figures in the Arab sector which are involved in the shaping of Israel’s foreign policy,” claims Mr. Hassan, “and there is a need to change this. The Arabs in Israel can play a central role in the rebuilding of Israel’s relations with the Arab and Muslim worlds, due to their cultural background and their status as citizens of Israel. There is  huge potential here, which has yet to be fulfilled, and which can be of genuine value to Israel’s foreign-policy and to increasing the Israeli understanding of developments taking place around the Middle East.”


Read the poll results here


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