A multi-dimensional battle withIsrael in the international arena
appears to be taking shape. Why
has Turkey chosen to challengeIsrael so strongly?
prime minister o New Zealand, and Colombian PresidentAlvaro Uribe were appointed members. Each governmentappointed a representative to the commission, which wasestablished in August 2010. Te commission prepared itsdraf report as early as February 2011, but with seriousobjections rom country representatives. Te urkish repre-sentative, totally dissatised with the report, withdrew romthe meetings at the end o April. On our occasions, theIsraeli government asked or extensions beore its release,indicating that it needed more time to build consensus onoering an apology. In August 2011, the Israeli govern-ment requested another six-month extension. TroughU.S. encouragement, urkey appeared ready to agree toa month’s extension when
Te New York imes
publishedthe leaked report. Who leaked it and why was not known,but the urkish oreign minister judged that there was nolonger any reason to wait. urkey rejected the report asbeing partial to Israel with contents exceeding the commis-sion’s duties. Israel, on the other hand, through Netanyahu,announced that it had done nothing wrong and would notoer an apology.
Turkey Strikes Back
Te urkish government immediately initiated a numbero measures against Israel. Tey reduced the level o diplo-matic representation to second secretary. All military contracts have been put on hold. urkey also announcedthat it will ensure the security o maritime trac in theEastern Mediterranean, and will work to challenge thelegality o the Gaza Blockade at the International Court o Justice in Te Hague. Finally, urkey will lend support to allwho suered rom the Israeli attack to the humanitarian aidotilla. In the meantime, Prime Minister Erdoğan has esca-lated urkey’s demands rom Israel to include the termina-tion o the blockade o Gaza, promising that other measureswould ollow. Only ordinary commerce, which or now isnot subject to restrictions, seems unaected.Te urkish prime minister’s anger has not subsided. Hehas called Israel the “spoiled brat,” adding that Israel cannotcontinue to behave that way orever. Erdoğan is going to visit Egypt, unisia, and Libya in mid-September, and thereis no question that he will discuss relations with Israel withthe new leaders. He added unisia and Libya to his plannedtrip, initially intended only or Egypt, in order to enhancecooperation with the newly emerging regimes. He has alsomentioned the option o visiting to Gaza. His visit andspeeches will inevitably reduce the ability o these govern-ments to be accommodating to Israel.A multi-dimensional battle with Israel in the internationalarena appears to be taking shape. Why has urkey chosento challenge Israel so strongly? Afer all, it might have beenpossible to issue strong verbal responses to the PalmerCommission report and insist on an apology withoutresorting to measures that present a serious challengeagainst Israel. Many explanations have been oered.
The Roots of Turkey’s Anger
Te preceding discussion has already reerred to some o the reasons why urkish-Israeli relations have deterioratedsteadily and rapidly. urkey has elt betrayed by Israel in aseries o incidents. First, it was the attack on Gaza just asurkey thought that it had gotten an Israeli agreement orproximity talks with Syria. Next, it was the attack on the
, although Israel had been advised that theship would not orce its way to Gaza but continue on to anEgyptian port. Tird, though not proven, urkey suspectedthat Israel leaked the Palmer Commission report to thepress, judging that it was quite avorable to Israeli view-points, and thereby undermining urkey’s position on theissue. urkey’s conclusions are that the Israeli governmentcannot be trusted to stick to its commitments and that Israeldoes not have any intention o making peace with its neigh-bors. Tereore, the urkish government believes pursuingpolicies based on the assumption that Israel is interestedin a Middle East peace is a waste o time. Israel will only respond to policies that oblige it to change its policies.