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Israel and Ankara Still ‘Talk Turkey’ as Exports Rise

Turkey has risen to the number three export market for Israel despite frigid diplomatic relations between Ankara and Jerusalem.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/31/2011, 6:56 PM

Istanbul Ataturk Airport (

Turkey has risen to the number three export market for Israel despite frigid diplomatic relations between Ankara and Jerusalem.

First quarter shipments to Turkey rose more than in any other market and pushed Turkey from ninth place to third place on the list of Israel's foreign markets, behind only the United States and the Netherlands.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shunned Israel for the last two years, ending a 20-year love affair that established Turkey as Israel’s best friend in the midst of enemies to the north.

Erdogan recently has preferred to forge alliances with Iran and Syria and also has called the Hamas terrorist organization a "peace partner” for Israel.

The diplomatic chill and rampant anti-Semitism in Turkey media has cost the country a fortune through a sharp drop of Israeli tourists, who used to look at Turkey as a favorite and cheap vacation site.

However, business continues as if nothing has happened, Exports, excluding diamonds, soared 73 percent, to $500 million, in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 2010.

By comparison, Israel exports $3 billion worth of merchandise to the United States. The increase in exports to Turkey was attributed to a sharp rise in chemicals and refined oil products.

Other major exports markets for Israel are Germany, China, India and major European countries, followed by Canada.