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Friday, July 29, 2011

Will Israel apologize to Turkey or is it wishful thinking?

Defenseless defense minister Ehud Barak was in Washington this past week, where he was subjected to a full-court press by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to apologize to Turkey for allowing the IDF to defend itself during the Mavi Marmara incident last year. Barak, who was inclined to apologize in the first place, told a news conference in Washington that Israel is 'mulling' an apology. Turkey's Daily Hurriyet has gone to the bank with that (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
Particularly since last Sunday the Israeli inner-cabinet, or the so-called “group of eight” met several times on the issue and according to Israeli sources has finally decided five to three to make an “apology” and pay compensation to the relatives of the victims. Israel, however, is still unable to deliver the apology much-demanded by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, because of its worries in regards to the “legal responsibility” of the soldiers – to be more precise, officers – involved in the deadly high sea piracy on Mavi Marmara. If Israel does not apologize, Turkey’s “plan B” in this year-long standoff includes allowing relatives of victims of the Israeli’s attack on the Turkish ship to seek justice at international court. Yet, there is no guarantee that after a formal apology of any sort by the Israeli state the issue will not be referred by the relatives of the victims to international jurisprudence.

According to Israeli sources, though the apology decision was made several days ago, the international jurisprudence concerns have so far marred Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, walking that unprecedented road. Yes, in whatever form it might come, it would be the first-ever for the state of Israel to apologize to another country, or individuals, for a military operation undertaken by its armed forces, and to pay – even though through a foundation – compensation of any sort. It will of course be painful for Israel, as much as it would be a revolutionary move.

Israeli apology may come as early as today, or tomorrow, if Erdoğan does not deliver yet another explosive remark. Erdoğan, talking to a gathering of Palestinian ambassadors had upped Turkey’s demands for normalization of relations with Israel, introducing “ending the Gaza blockade” condition to the apology and compensation conditions declared earlier. Israel has so far preferred to totally ignore that new third condition spelled out by the Turkish premier, but will Ankara agree to that? We shall see it in days ahead.
JPost is telling the story a little bit differently.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday said that Israel was "willing to consider apologizing" for problems that occurred during last year's raid of the Turkish flotilla ship the Mavi Marmara in which nine Turks were killed by IDF commandos.


"Defense Ministry and IDF legal advisers recommend that we come to an understanding with Turkey in order to protect commanders and soldiers from legal action," Barak stated.

"We are not apologizing for the blockade and we are not apologizing for using force," he said. "We are willing to consider apologizing for problems that occurred during the Marmara operation, if indeed their were such problems...I don't like it, but that is the choice that must be made," Barak added.


Barak has come out as the key advocate in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s inner forum urging Israel to take steps necessary to bring about a normalization of ties with Turkey.
There has been talk here for months that we would pay compensation. What's new here is the 'apology,' and although the Turks would undoubtedly spin it as a total capitulation, it's quite limited and if the Turks actually read it they will not be satisfied with it.

I also have my doubts about the 5-3 in favor. I think it's 6-2 against. Here are the eight inner cabinet members: Barak and Dan Meridor are undoubtedly in favor of apologizing. Boogie Yaalon, Benny Begin, and Avigdor Lieberman are opposed. Netanyahu and Yishai are opposed but pliable. Yishai could even just stay away from the vote - that's completely in character for him. Yuval Steinitz? Against, but he's getting killed by all the demonstrations dealing with our economy right now, and there have been rumors about Netanyahu cutting him loose. Would he vote in favor to keep his seat? It wouldn't be the first time in this country.

So that would leave 4-3 in favor of a very limited apology with no taking down the blockade and on condition that we would get assurances that the soldiers won't be hauled into court.

I come back to Turkey not being satisfied with any apology Israel would give and not being able to give assurances that our soldiers won't be sued anyway. I think it will fall on those grounds.

What could go wrong?

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At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this comes to pass, the next step will be legal action against the IDF from people on the flotilla. If I were a member of teams that carried out that mission, I'd be very worried. Not to mention disgusted.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Turks will not be not satisfied with anything less than outright Israeli capitulation and national humiliation. A weak Israel with no national dignity and self-respect is not the country even the Turks want to rebuild ties with.

Stupid Jews in Israel don't get it. Being good dhimmis won't win Israel Turkey's goodwill or friendship.

Just say NO to an apology and compensation!

What could go wrong indeed

At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl, your post from the other day - http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2011/07/who-is-less-popular-than-barack-obama.html - Is the perfect example of why Israel should NOT apologize in any way shape or form.


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