"Washington is increasingly becoming upset with Ankara. The origin of this lies in the approach to Israel. The Iranian issue comes in second," according to a senior Turkish political analyst.
In an op-ed published this week by the Hurriyet daily, Mehmet Ali Birand wrote, "Each and every unfavorable step by Turkey toward Israel directly affects Turkish-American relations. Everybody is uncomfortable and tense and it distorts the country’s image.
"The majority of those upset voice their concern in the US Congress, US media and also some NGOs. The Jewish lobby which supported Turkey for many years doesn’t understand the change in attitude, nor does it intend to do so," he said.
Birand also criticized Washington's approach to the crisis between Jerusalem and Ankara over the deadly commando raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish ship in late May.
"The US administration is working on trying to understand Ankara and its intention toward Israel and waiting for relations to calm down. It tries to inspire Turkey so negotiations with Israel can start over again saying: 'A cessation in relations with Israel would increase tension in the region. Such a situation would not be bearable either for Turkey or for the United States. You already said what you had to say. Resend your ambassador and ease relations.' When giving this advice it looks out for the benefit of Israel.
"It (US) does not recommend that Israel apologize but tells us to calm down," said the analyst, who is considered liberal.
However, Birand warned that Turkish-US ties could deteriorate further. "We have not arrived at the point of breaking up. For there won’t be a break-up with the United States easily. But once it breaks, fixing it would be very difficult.
"We are on the verge of entering dangerous waters. If we consider the latest developments we’d see that the course is not very good," he said. "For example, the fact that (Turkish President Abdullah) Gul and (Israeli President Shimon) Peres could not meet was externally interpreted as Turkey 'setting a condition.' And the (US administration badly wanted this meeting to take place."
Birand claimed Turkey will have no choice but to slowly "smooth relations" with Israel. "Turkey probably won’t get back to its former relations with Israel but it won’t be hostile either. For everybody in Ankara knows that there will be much harm in the case of long disputes with Israel," he wrote.
"What is important for Turkey is the lifting or at least an easing of the Gaza embargo. An advance in peace negotiations these days will also solve any congestion in Turkish-Israeli relations. If not managed well, it may lead to a disaster."
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