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Turkish PM Erdogan Photo: AFP
Turkish PM Erdogan Photo: AFP

Remember who we're dealing with

Op-ed: Relations between Israel and Turkey began to deteriorate long before Gaza flotilla incident

Yoaz Hendel
Published: 03.25.13, 14:06 / Israel Opinion

Let's get back to reality: Erdogan's Turkey is a regional rival of Israel, not an ally. The strategic romance ended, and it has nothing to do with the Marmara incident. As early as 2004 Prime Minister Erdogan called Israel a terror state, and from there things deteriorated to the claim that Zionism is a crime against humanity.


In relations between countries it is important to occasionally embrace your rivals; it is legitimate; but we must not forget who we are dealing with.

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In light of Israel's apology for the deaths of Turkish nationals during the raid on a Gaza-bound vessel in 2010, we should keep in mind that the sail to the Hamas-ruled territory was organized by IHH, an organization that supports terror and has built ties with Erdogan's administration. The terrorists on board the vessel were killed as a result of a violent and deliberate military confrontation. The commandos acted exactly as they should have in a life-threatening situation. The inquiry commissions and condemnations that followed the raid were the product of interests, nothing more.


Thousands of Muslims are killed in the Middle East every month, but not even one UN representative or inquiry committee addresses these killings. Israel had no reason to apologize; the raid was justified; but in diplomacy there are other concerns.


The State of Israel made three decisions in the aftermath of the Marmara affair. The first was to release all the detainees the day after the raid. This was a mistake which did not allow Israel to complete its investigation regarding the Turkish government's involvement in the flotilla. The second decision was to change the siege of Gaza: The restrictions on the goods allowed into the Strip were lifted almost entirely. The third decision was not to apologize for an act of self-defense and a legal blockade.


In the past I supported the decision not to apologize, despite the American pressure, because I believed that a determined stance carries a lot of weigh in the regional balance of power. Not much has changed in the region, and the dramatic developments in Syria offer a weak excuse to apologize, because Israel has managed to deal with this front without the Turks.


In the political sphere, however, the new government and Obama's visit created new interests. Logic triumphed. Only an ass does not change its mind, and obstinacy is the hallmark of failed countries. Still, we should be careful not to suffer from the opposite syndrome.



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