Israeli chief of staff felt Erdoğan’s hatred for Israel

Jacob Dayan, the former chief of staff for Israeli foreign ministers ilvan Shalom and Tzipi Livni, said he felt the animosity of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan towards Israel, meaning Turkey’s diplomatic overtures towards the country should be treated with suspicion.

Dayan said he attended several small meetings with Erdoğan during a time when face-to-face talks between the two governments were still taking place.

“In all of these meetings I felt one thing clearly: The conspicuous lack of affection for Israel, and even hatred, did not come from his (Erdoğan’s) head but from his heart,” Dayan said in an article for the Haaretz newspaper on Monday entitled “The truth behind Turkey’s sudden embrace of Israel”.

“These were difficult meetings, charged and very unpleasant, which heralded what the future would bring - from cutting off all government ties to the Mavi Marmara affair,” he said. “Benjamin Netanyahu understood, saw and felt it, and without a doubt the construction of the “Aegean Axis” with Greece and Cyprus was a sort of response, though inadequate, because the strategic relations with Turkey have no real counterweight.”

Now political commentators are talking about a renaissance or a new era in relations after a long phone call between President Isaac Herzog and Erdoğan, Dayan said.

““Can a leopard change its spots?!” Highly doubtful,” he said.

“The cold wind blowing in the direction of Turkey from the Biden administration, which will only grow stronger, the failing economy and the Turkish vision of the Middle East, which has collapsed, may be causing a tactical change in Erdoğan’s attitude toward Israel, but this change will always be only tactical, not strategic.

“An outsider wouldn’t understand. Only those who were present in a meeting with Erdoğan and felt his burning hatred for Israel, and only those who heard what he said, can understand how deeply these things are imprinted in his worldview.”

Dayan said Israel now needs to be realistic about future prospects for relations.

"I don’t rule out a tactical narrowing of differences," he said. "Israel also has weighty interests in such closer relations, but we need to go there with our eyes open, and know that the man who provided a base for Hamas activists and permitted the Mavi Marmara to sail to Gaza will not suddenly turn into Anwar Sadat or King Hussein."