Turkey matters little after Israel strikes deals with UAE, Bahrain - academic

Turkey has been further sidelined in the region after Israel signed normalisation agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College, said in the Haaretz newspaper on Monday.

"Israel’s turn toward the Arab world and eastern Mediterranean countries as key partners in economic development is further proof that Turkey has missed the chance for a deal with the small country with one of the largest GDPs in the region," Fishman said.

Political relations between Turkey and Israel have turned sour in recent years, in part because Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likes to champion the Palestinian cause.

Ankara has been isolated in the Middle East particularly since a diplomatic crisis erupted on June 5, 2017, when a quartet of Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates accused Qatar of supporting Islamist groups, which were also backed by Turkey.

"One cannot disregard the importance of how Ankara keeps the Palestinians on the international agenda, especially when the Palestinian leadership is itself divided, as are Arab states," Fishman said.

But it is actually Qatar, Turkey’s only remaining Arab ally, which financially supports Palestinians in Gaza while Ankara has been struck with severe economic difficulties and continuous strife both domestically and internationally, Fishman said.

Furthermore, Egypt rather than Turkey is serving as an intermediary between Israel and the Palestinians when violence breaks out, he said.

"Even the Palestinians, justifiably outraged by the new UAE and Bahrain deals, know that Turkey cannot replace Arab states both in terms of aid and support, regardless of what their relations with Israel might be," Fishman added.