In 2011, the UN Palmer Commission Report found the blockade of Gaza — jointly administered with Egypt — to be legal, and said Israel owed Turkey neither an apology nor compensation.
Turkish sources assert that Turkish-Israeli governmental relations are about to come out of thedeep freeze. But this is a reflection of Turkey’s regional unpopularity and glides over Turkish demands for Israel to end the blockade of Gaza. To meet Turkey’s condition, Israel would have to abandon the security arrangement it shares with Egypt — which has increased Israel’s security and has begun to pay regional dividends. To restore full relations between Israel and Turkey would irritate Russia, with which Israel has good trade and political relations, and a respectful series of understandings regarding Syria. Israel’s relations with the Kurds are also at issue here.
After the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla — in which Turkey supported the Hamas-related Turkish organization, the IHH, in its effort to break the blockade of Gaza — Turkey made three demands of Israel: an Israeli apology for the deaths of Turkish activists; a financial settlement; and lifting the Gaza blockade, which Turkey claimed was illegal. The last would provide IHH with the victory it was unable to achieve with the flotilla.
|The Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara took part in a 2010 “Gaza flotilla” attempting to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, which is in place to prevent the terrorist group Hamas from bringing arms into Gaza. (Image source: “Free Gaza movement”/Flickr)|
In 2011, however, the UN Palmer Commission Report found the blockade of Gaza — jointly administered with Egypt — to be legal, and said Israel owed Turkey neither an apology nor compensation. In 2013, at the urging of President Obama and to move the conversation off the impasse, Prime Minister Netanyahu did apologize for the loss of life and agree to discuss compensation. While President Obama was pleased, Prime Minister Erdogan repaid the gestureby denigrating Israel on Turkish television and announcing he would force the end of the blockade. Israel’s condition — that the office of Hamas in Ankara be closed — was ignored.
Nevertheless, in February 2014, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish television that Israel and Turkey were “closer than ever” to normalizing relations.” In December 2015, it was more of the same. And in February 2016, there was yet another announcement of imminent restoration of government-to-government ties. In March, Kurdish sources said Turkey was demanding weapons from Israel, but that Israel wanted to ensure that Turkey would not use them against Kurdish forces.
Israel finds itself in an odd position — choosing among those who want its cooperation.
Israel and Egypt have come to a deep understanding of the sources of instability and insecurity in Sinai, and the relationship between Hamas in Gaza and its primary sponsor, Iran, as well as ISIS. Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz told inFOCUS magazine recently:
Coordination between us is very high and very important because we have identical interests. Period. The way to achieve them might look different, but Egypt is a very important country. It is crucial to the world to ensure its stability – progress in the fight against ISIS that is present in Sinai, and protecting the Suez Canal, and other things… They are all good reasons for Egypt to take these responsibilities seriously and do something about the threats. I’m very happy to see what they’re doing. It is a good track.
This month, Egypt and Saudi Arabia upgraded relations with Egypt, ceding back to the Saudis two islands that Saudi Arabia had given Egypt in 1950 to help Egypt fight Israel in the Red Sea. According to a report in the Egyptian daily al-Ahram, as reported by the Jerusalem Post, the Egyptian government informed Israel of the parameters of the deal, noting that Riyadh would be obligated to honor all of Egypt’s commitments in the peace treaty with Israel, including the presence of international peacekeepers on the islands and freedom of maritime movement in the Gulf of Aqaba. Israel approved the deal “on condition that the Saudis fill in the Egyptians’ shoes in the military appendix of the peace agreement,” according to Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.
This makes Saudi Arabia an active partner in the Camp David Accords. And it follows on the heels of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) labeling Hezbollah “a terror organization” without the weasel words the Europeans used to condemn only the “military wing” of the organization.
In the face of these developments, it is hard to imagine a benefit that would accrue to Israel by negating the Israel-Egypt blockade of Gaza on behalf of Turkey.
Russia presents a similar series of circumstances. Relations between Russia and Turkey have taken a nosedive over the Syrian civil war, particularly after Turkey shot down a Russian plane. But even before that, Turkey’s support of Sunni jihadist organizations was a thorn in the side of Russia, which still fears Sunni jihad inside southern Russia.
Russia has goals in Syria and Israel also has requirements. In his inFOCUS interview, former Chief of Staff Gantz noted:
The [Israeli] Prime Minister and Chief of Staff [Gantz’s successor] flew to Russia and had some important of discussions of intentions, deconfliction, and we expressed our interests… stability, preventing terrorist activity… preventing armament that will go from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah, or from Russia to Syria and then to Hezbollah…. People can see what it is that Israel does once in a while when it has to protect itself.
Add to this Israel’s generally good economic and political relations with Russia and, again, it is hard to see the benefit that would accrue to Israel by forging closer relations with Turkey while Russia and Turkey are doing a slow burn.
Turkey is doing a faster burn on the Kurds. Having waged a fierce war against Kurdish separatists in southern Turkey, the Turkish government has taken military action against the Kurds of Iraq and Syria to prevent Kurdish forces from connecting two enclaves — one in Iraq and one in Syria — that could form the geographic beginning of an independent Kurdistan.
Even at the peak of Israeli-Turkish relations, Israel’s support of the Kurds has been a relatively open political secret. Although the Israeli government consistently denies providing weapons, reputable sources suggest, at a minimum, training for Kurdish forces. Most recently, Israel acknowledged buying oil from Kurdish sources in Northern Iraq, and IsraAid, an Israeli humanitarian organization, provided assistance to Kurdish refugees fleeing ISIS. Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly supported the establishment of a Kurdish state.
For Israel to trade its increasingly important relations with Russia, with Egypt — and thereby with Saudi Arabia — and with the Kurds for Turkish political approval and a promise to buy Israeli natural gas would seem to be a bad deal. For Israel to accompany that with the lifting of the Israel/Egypt embargo on Gaza that would empower Hamas — and thereby the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran and ISIS — would seem an enormous risk for no gain.
Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center.
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.