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appeared in [Israel’s] relationship with Turkey, Israel began expanding diplomatic and military ties with Greece, Turkey’s traditional rival. Over the weekend the alliance bore its first fruits, when Greek naval commandos prevented The Audacity of Hope from setting sail for Gaza. Israel and Turkey shared a strategic alliance for years. But when the Erdogan government began to attack Israel, and especially after the Mavi Marmara incident last year that turned tensions between the countries into a bona fide split, Israel began looking for new allies in the region. Israeli diplomacy, displaying an uncharacteristic creativity, began spinning a new web of connections. The chemistry between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou paved the way for a real alliance between the countries: Israel sold advanced weapons to the Greek army, Israel Air Force pilots trained in Greek airspace and hundreds of thousands of Israeli tourists traded Turkish resorts for Greek islands. When preparations for the second flotilla to Gaza began, Israel asked its new ally to prevent the peace activists’ ships from setting sail for Gaza from Greek ports. In Jerusalem, authorities believed the Greeks would agree: after all, even Turkey and Cyprus prevented the flotilla from using their ports as departure stations. Athens promised to “sink” the flotilla ships with bureaucracy, a move that would have prevented them from setting sail: a ship lacking even one fire extinguisher, they promised, would be grounded for violating safety codes. But the Greeks also explained that an extensive legal review led to the conclusion that they could not completely prevent the ships from setting sail. Sources in Jerusalem didn’t like the answer. “How could it be that even Turkey stopped the flotilla—and you are giving them the okay,” Israeli diplomats asked their Greek counterparts. As reported in Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday, this is where Netanyahu entered the picture. Last week, the prime minister held several crucial telephone conversations with Papandreou, the last of which was last Wednesday night. Behind the scenes Israel sent veiled threats: “If this flotilla gets underway, it will go down in history as the ‘Greek flotilla.’” Israeli diplomats said the warning made the Greeks recoil. “At this time, when the Greek economy is crumbling and [Greece] needs every dollar it can get, the last thing they need is a violent clash that will be registered in their name.” On Friday Greece showed the first signs of an about face. Greece’s minister for internal security, who is responsible for the country’s Coast Guard, announced that the flotilla ships would not be allowed to set sail for Gaza. When it became clear that the Audacity of Hope was planning to ignore the ruling and to set sail for Gaza, Greek commandos attacked the boat with guns drawn, forced the boat to return to port and arrested the commander. The incident, which followed mysterious mishaps on two other flotilla ships in Greece and Turkey, apparently sealed the flotilla’s fate. “Flotilla organizers apparently didn’t take into account the romance between Israel and Greece,” said one diplomatic source. This week Netanyahu will travel to Romania and Bulgaria, two more members of the “Balkan Alliance” that Israel is working on developing, to ask their leaders not to support a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood.