NATO has reportedly agreed to increase Israel’s participation in its activities in 2013 after Ankara eased its opposition to the move following the alliance’s approval of the deployment of Patriot missiles to Turkey.
Citing Israeli officials, Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday that “the approval had come as Turkey’s request that NATO station Patriot missile batteries along its border with Syria was granted, leading them to assess that NATO was using the deployment as leverage to induce Ankara to thaw its relations with Israel.”
Israel, a NATO partner participating in seminars, exercises and training courses, has been requesting to increase its role in the military alliance but it was met with an objection from Turkey, a full NATO member.
“At the last minute – and I think it was dependent on the Patriots – it was approved,” said one Israeli official on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli official also said that Israel’s approval for participation in the 2013 work plan and other traditional NATO activities “is not a total solution” to tensions between Israel and Turkey.
The report added that Israel is seeking to improve its status in NATO, but Tel Aviv fears about the opposition of Turkey which enjoys veto power as decision-making in the alliance is conducted by consensus.
NATO officials have been pushing to improve the Israel-Turkey ties that were soured after the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in 2010, according to Post.
“We would like the issue to be resolved sooner rather than later,” a NATO official said on condition of anonymity. “For the time being we’re trying to find ways to keep the conversation going with Israel.”
NATO has approved of Turkey’s request for the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles in its territory.
The agreement emerged from a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on December 4 despite strong opposition from Russia, Syria and Iran.
On December 14, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed orders to authorize the plan to deploy Patriot missile batteries and about 400 troops to Turkey following the announcement of a similar move by Germany.