Thursday, March 28, 2013

Will the Turkey-Israel Truce Hold?

Turkey & Israel

Can Israel and Turkey Really Bury the Hatchet? -Eyal Zisser

The events of the 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara seem far away now. Since that incident, Egyptian President Mubarak was overthrown, the reality between Israel and Gaza changed radically, and Syria has plunged into a bloody civil war. It is doubtful that the re-normalization of relations will truly allow both nations to re-establish the same intimate relationship they once shared - not any time soon.

At the same time, Israel and Turkey's financial ties continued to prosper over the past three years, despite the diplomatic rift. Tourism may have suffered, but commercial ties bloomed. Erdogan had hoped that his anti-Israeli, pro-Arab policies would open the Arab markets for them, only to see Ankara's massive investments in Syria literally go up in smoke. The same fate befell Turkey's investments in Egypt. This reality makes Israel seem like a reliable and promising economic partner.

The Arab Spring has also exposed - and deepened - the political chasm between Turkey and Iran.

Israel must remember that Turkey is ruled by a firebrand prime minister who supports various Islamic movements in the Arab world. But he too understands that political interests trump all others; and it was those economic and security interests that facilitated the reconciliation with Israel.
Prof. Eyal Zisser is former director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.
(Israel Hayom)

Turkish Perception Versus Reality - Herb Keinon

Turkish President Erdogan crowed that Israel acceded to all of Ankara's demands in apologizing for the Mavi Marmara incident. According to Israeli diplomatic officials familiar with the months-long negotiations over the formula, Erdogan wanted a public apology to him for the raid on the ship and the killing of nine Turks. What he got was a bit different. Netanyahu regretted the loss of life, and issued an apology to the Turkish people, not to Erdogan, for operational mistakes - if they happened - that led to the loss of life. Furthermore, Netanyahu did not apologize for commandeering the ship, something the Turks wanted.

On the issue of compensation, Israel always said it would pay compensation. On the issue of lifting the blockade of Gaza, the statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office and carefully crafted by both sides read: "Prime Minister Netanyahu also noted that Israel had substantially lifted the restrictions on the entry of civilian goods into the Palestinian territories, including Gaza, and that this would continue as long as calm prevailed." That in no way can be interpreted as "lifting the siege of Gaza," but Erdogan declares his demands were met.
(Jerusalem Post)

The Erdogan, Netanyahu Reconciliation: Interests Triumph -Barak Ravid

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in a phone conversation on Friday that he appreciated the comments Erdogan made to the Danish newspaper Politiken on Wednesday in which he took back the statements he previously made calling Zionism a form of racism. Erdogan explained that he was criticizing Israeli policies in Gaza and that his statements were misconstrued. Erdogan told Netanyahu that he cherishes the longstanding relationship between Israel and Turkey and between the Turkish people and the Jewish people, stressing that he would like to improve relations.

The Turkish prime minister promised President Obama to stop his harsh public criticism of Israel. Erdogan was surprised by the strong American response to the speech in which he said that Zionism is a crime against humanity. The Americans were furious and publicly rebuked him. In actuality, Netanyahu's message of apology to Turkey was only made possible after Erdogan apologized himself for his remarks.

What led more than anything else to the end to the crisis was the serious deterioration of the crisis in Syria. In addition, shared interest in the Iranian nuclear issue is only growing. As in September 2007 in Syria, Erdogan will not shed a tear if Israel or the U.S. "solves" this problem.


BBC Bests New York Times on Coverage of Israeli Apology

The New York Times informed readers that Israel apologized "for a deadly commando raid" and expressed regret "for the raid." But Israel did not apologize "for the raid" itself, but rather for operational errors potentially tied to loss of lives during the incident.

The BBC offered a more accurate summary: "Israel's prime minister has apologized to Turkey for "any errors that could have led to loss of life" during the 2010 commando raid on an aid flotilla that tried to breach the Gaza blockade.

The Times also avoided pointing out that the loss of lives on the boat were part of an intense and violent battle between Israeli troops and the activist passengers who attacked them as they boarded the ship.       

Not Yet a Reconciliation -Ely Karmon

The first test for Erdogan's real intentions will be his expected visit to Gaza in mid-April, where he is sure to be received as the next Sultan.

The crucial question is how much support Erdogan will give to Hamas, which has not renounced its goal of liberating all of Palestine through the armed struggle. Turkey's leadership has neither criticized Hamas' violent activities nor succeeded in influencing its strategy, while protesting loudly Israel's retaliatory actions.
The writer is Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the IDC in Herzliya. 

PA: We Don't Want Turkish Prime Minister to Visit Gaza
-Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinian Authority opposes Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's intention to visit Gaza, a senior PA official in Ramallah said. "The Palestinian Authority leadership has informed the Turkish government that we are opposed to such a visit," he said. "Gaza is not an independent Palestinian state and Hamas is not the legitimate representative of the Palestinians."

The PA fears that such visits would legitimize Hamas rule in Gaza and affect the PLO's claim to be the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinians.
(Jerusalem Post)

Iran's Foes Are Israel's Friends -Editorial

The rapprochement between Jerusalem and Ankara has profound implications, not just for the conflict in Syria, but also for containing Iran's nuclear ambitions and regional designs. A UN investigation found Israel's blockade was legal and its forces justified in defending themselves against "organized and violent resistance."

Yet the ensuing standoff has been a major impediment in confronting the Syrian crisis and has given comfort to Syria's ally Iran.

Netanyahu has had to swallow a bitter pill, but the reconciliation with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan is a strategically smart decision for which they both deserve great credit.
(The Australian)

Turkish-Israeli Rapprochement -Yoav Karny

Three weeks ago, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu invited the descendants of the last of the Ottoman dynasty to a festive dinner at the Turkish embassy in London. Among the guests was the grandson of the last Caliph, whom Kemal Ataturk deposed in March 1924.

And Turkey is seriously trying to convince its neighbors that it has no interest in reviving the Ottoman past?

Turkey's gloating billboard

Maybe that Israeli Apology to Turkey was a Good Idea -Daniel Pipes, PhD

The municipality of Turkey's capital city, Ankara, put up billboards on city streets reveling in the Israeli apology. They are not subtle, showing a sad-looking Netanyahu beneath a larger, buoyant Erdoğan, separated by the Mavi Marmara itself. Addressing Erdoğan, they read: "Israel apologized to Turkey. Dear Prime Minister, we are grateful that you let our country experience this pride."

Erdoğan himself claims not only that the apology has changed the balance of power in the Arab-Israeli conflict but that it obligates Israel to work with Ankara in its diplomacy with the Palestinians.

Indeed, the Turkish gloating has been so conspicuous and extended that it may have prompted to a healthy sense of reality.

Now that Israelis humiliated themselves and Erdoğan is rampaging ahead, some are awakening to the fact that this apology only made matters worse. Naftali Bennett, Israel's minister of economy and trade, slammed the Turkish response: "Since the apology was made public, it appears Erdoğan is doing everything he can to make Israel regret it, while conducting a personal and vitriolic campaign at the expense of Israel-Turkey relations. Let there be no doubt — no nation is doing Israel a favor by renewing ties with it. It should also be clear to Erdoğan that if Israel encounters in the future any terrorism directed against us, our response will be no less severe."

Boaz Bismuth of Israel Hayom colorfully notes that Israelis "didn't expect to feel that only several days after Israel's apology, Erdoğan would already be making us feel that we had eaten a frog along with our matzah this year."

Perhaps after all the apology was a good thing. For a relatively inexpensive price – some words – Israelis and others have gained a better insight into the Turkish leadership's mentality. It's not that they suffer from hurt pride but that they are Islamist ideologues with an ambitious agenda. If the misguided apology makes this evident to more observers, it has its compensations and possibly could turn out to be a net plus.
[National Review Online]

Reconciliation with Turkey? Not with Erdogan - Nitzan Nuriel

So long as Erdogan remains prime minister of Turkey, there is no chance for genuine, full reconciliation between the countries. Erdogan does not accept Israel's activities, he has acted defiantly in the past, and his stance with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is known.

It is not good for Israel to be in a state of high intensity friction with Turkey. Therefore, measures that are intended to reduce the friction are correct, but we must not be tempted to believe that these will fundamentally change Erdogan's opinions towards Israel.
Brig.-General Nitzan Nuriel is the former head of Israel's Counter Terrorism Bureau.
(Israel Defense)

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