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Monday, April 22, 2013

They're not going to kiss and make up any time soon

Despite the apology from Prime Minister Netanyahu to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, Israel and Turkey are unlikely to make up anytime soon according to former Israeli Ambassador (to Jordan and the European Union) Oded Eran.
[E]ven if all the Turkish preconditions are met, the problems will not end and tension will increase on several different levels.


Some of the Turkish leader’s statements concerning Israel are considered by many to be offensive and unacceptable. His remarks in late February of this year, in which he lumped Zionism in with anti-Semitism, fascism and Islamophobia as crimes against humanity, elicited harsh criticism from the White House and the European Union. (The best response, though unintended as such, was the visit President Obama made to the Jerusalem grave of the father of Zionism—Theodor Herzl.)
In the early days of the rule of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, Erdogan was more circumspect in his criticism of Israel. In other words, so long as cooperation with Israel served his personal and national goals for Turkey, he and foreign minister Davutoglu were willing to censor themselves. Israel responded similarly by turning a blind eye to some troubling events: Iran’s use of Turkish airspace to supply weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon; the then flourishing relations between Tehran and Ankara; and the political and financial support rendered by Turkey to Hamas in the wake of their takeover of Gaza in June 2007.
Between 2006-2009, Israel entrusted Turkey with negotiations with Syria. Turkey hosted the Israeli and Syrian negotiations and acted as a go-between in these proximity talks. This role gave the Turkish political leadership precisely the political gratification they were looking for and proof that Turkey is a key regional player. Turkey was quick to paper over the attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor attributed to Israel by planes that might have violated Turkish airspace (detached fuel tanks were found on Turkish soil).
All of this came to an end, however, in the last days of 2008 and early part of 2009. In the final week of December 2008, Prime Minister Erdogan hosted his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Olmert, who had already announced his resignation. Hours after returning, Israel launched the military operation "Cast Lead," aimed at stopping the barrage of rockets fired from Gaza targeting Israeli towns and villages. Olmert could not have told his Turkish host of the impending Israeli operation, but Erdogan's fury can be similarly understood—the impression that he was informed about the Israeli operation and made no attempt to stop it could have been created. Erdogan's anger was evident when, for example, he stormed out from a session with Israel's president, Shimon Peres, in the Davos Economic Forum several weeks later. Following elections in early 2009, the new Israeli government under Netanyahu decided to suspend talks with Syria, a legitimate act but one that eliminated a Turkish political asset. This all preceded the dramatic events that occurred at sea in May 2010.


The rapidly changing geostrategic map of the Middle East contains more seeds of conflict between Turkey and Israel than before. In the 1950s and 60s, Israel built informal pacts with non-Arab peripheral players—Iran, Turkey and Ethiopia—as a partial countermeasure to it being surrounded by hostile Arab states. Israel has had peace treaties with two states–Egypt and Jordan—since 1979 and 1994, which has improved its strategic balance. Syria and Iraq are now in a process of disintegration and potential alliances could be developed among their minorities, which have been long oppressed. As central governments weaken and prove unable to exert even a semblance of control, such ethnic and religious groups are pushing for political and cultural autonomy.

Read the whole thing.

JPost is reporting on Monday that Turkey has refused the United States' and the 'Palestinian Authority's requests to 'postpone' Prime Minister Erdogan's trip to Gaza.
According to Turkish officials, Erdogan is sensitive to Abbas's concerns, but believes it is important to make his visit to Gaza close to the May 31, three-year anniversary of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara in which nine pro-Palestinian Turks hoping to break the blockade of Gaza were killed.
Erdogan is floating the idea of first visiting Abbas in Ramallah, and using the trip as a springboard to advance reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas, Asharq al-Awsat reported.
I wonder how he plans to get there. Does he expect the Egyptians to let him in? Does he expect to travel on the Mavi Marmara? Hmmm.

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