Having chosen the reinforcement of its influence in the Arab world as the strategic goal, Turkish Republic logically started to actively support Palestine, countering Israel. This is a true path for gaining love of Arab streets and respect of Arab leaders. Wealthy Middle-Eastern monarchies are ready to accept Turkey as a mediator of a dialogue between the West and East in exchange for liberating them from a role of a buffer, staying under constant pressure from both sides.
Having defined his strategy — exchange of the increased influence in the Arab world for the entrance ticket to Europe — Erdoğan was to define the tactic as well. The essence of the desired tactic is the ways for increasing this influence. In the Islamic world Turkey was always viewed as a pro-Western country, which, naturally, not only didn’t promote its positions in the Arab world but also created certain tensions in the relations with non-Arabian Israel. And here Turkish leader has made a faultless decision. Every champion of Palestine will be accepted not only by the Arab streets, but at the top governmental level, too. Thus, Israel — culprit of all Palestinian troubles — became the Turkish target. Turkey, which never interfered with the settlement of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, started to consistently a decisively protect the Palestinian autonomy.
We shouldn’t forget that bilateral Israeli-Turkish relations have always been an example of good-neighborliness of an Islamic and Jewish state. They were united not only by a close political interaction, military-technical cooperation but also a quite intimate friendship of the intelligence services. Regardless of how heartily did mysterious Mossad refuse to give any comments, it was a secret for none that one of the most politically-demanded operations of Turkish authorities — capture of the Kurdish revolutionary leader Abdullah Öcalan — was carried out by the famous Israeli secret service. Long hands of Israelis has reached the rebellious Kurd in Kenya, from where he was secretly moved to Turkey in February of 1999 — he still serves his life imprisonment term in the most well-guarded Turkish prison at the İmralı island in the Sea of Marmara.
Turkey also rendered Israel some secret services of no small importance. In February of 2008, at the request of Israeli leadership Turkey invited Khaled Mashal, head of Hamas Political Bureau to Ankara in order to carry out secret negotiations. Israelis considered it inappropriate to meet the leader of a terrorist organization and applied to Turkish mediation. Common public was offered a quite different version. Israeli press media accused Turkish media of negotiating with terrorists and claimed the Mashal’s arrival to Ankara “a point, when the abrupt aggravations of relationship between Jerusalem and Ankara started”. Israeli Ambassador to Turkey was mostly strong-worded. Offended Erdoğan even called then head of Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and asked her to reprove her subordinate.
These curious details of Israeli-Turkish diplomatic cooperation were publicized by Erdoğan’s former Vice Prime Minister Abdüllatif Şeneran interview to Zaman Today. He also added that in fact deterioration of Israeli-Turkish relations was mostly decorative. Yet, according to him, Israel has crossed Turkey up:
“Many steps of the Turkish government that were interpreted as anti-Israeli ones weren’t such in fact. Israel gave a carte blanche to Turkey in order to publicly drag it through mud afterwards!”
That seems to be the reason for organization of notorious Freedom Flotilla in May of 2010. Then, after the attack of Israeli navy, 9 people died and 33 were wounded. Approximately 600 human rights advocates (of Turkish origin mostly) and 10 thousand tons of humanitarian cargos were aboard the Flotilla ships. This story caused an outbreak of indignation in the Arab world and several European countries. Israel has conducted its own investigation, results of which it presented to Turkey. Israeli report claimed that actions of their military were legitimate and grounded. Erdoğan swept the investigation results away and proclaimed that commission conclusions are worth a zilch and cannot be trusted. Besides that, Turkish Prime Minister dubbed the published report of a governmental commission biased. Previously Erdoğan also demanded Israel to admit its mistakes and pray excuses from the families of people, who died during the attack at Freedom Flotilla, having dubbed the Israeli policy a state terrorism. At the Turkish request UN also joined the investigation, yet it also didn’t listen to the Turkish arguments. Report of a special commission — headed by the former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer — was presented to both parties of the conflict and caused more indignation of Erdoğan by the claim that Gaza blockade was legitimate, which justified Israeli actions in fact. The document has even held Turkish government responsible for the incident, because it didn’t hinder the ships taking to leave, while it was to comprehend the consequences of an attempt to break the blockade. Enraged Erdoğan decided to provoke Israel to a use of force once again and announced the preparations of a Freedom Flotilla-2.
Israel is not triumphant in regard of the UN verdict that favors it at all. Trying to prevent the former escalation of tensions in relationship with Turkey, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his Turkish counterpart Recep Erdoğan a letter, congratulating him with a victory at elections and calling him to restore the friendship between two countries, Turkish weekly Zaman writes. In a letter, excerpt from which was published by the newspaper, Netanyahu wrote:
“My government will be glad to cooperate with the new Turkish government, seeking for solutions of topical matters of our countries. We hope for restoration of cooperation and renewal of the friendship and partnership spirit, which has characterized relations between our nations throughout generations”.
Erdoğan, however, remained rock-steady. Let me remind you that at the current stage of realization of his strategic plan, there’s no place for friendship with Israel in his intentions. Press media reported of now replies to this conciliatory gesture of an Israeli Prime Minister. Perhaps, new expedition to the Gaza coast itself is a reply of a sort. All the more that in the current conditions, when border customs point at Rafah — connecting Gaza Strip with Egypt — was opened at a permanently basis, any naval humanitarian aid to Palestinian lost its sense. And mind that new Egyptian authorities have established quite a merciful visa-free regime for citizens of Palestine.
Palestinians themselves call Rafah a “light version” of Gaza Strip. In complete accordance with the agreement “About border checkpoints” that Israel and Palestinian administration signed in November of 2005, this checkpoint is used for passing all Palestinians, who have a Palestinian citizenship. Besides, it is “used for export of Palestinian products — agricultural, mostly — despite the protests of Zionist authorities”, as the media reports.
Being afraid of a sharp tone of the UN report, Turkey offered Israel to accept an agreed text of resolution of the UN investigative committee, claiming its readiness to restore the relations with Israel in full, including the return of ambassadors. Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon was appointed a special envoy of Israeli Prime Minister for settlement of relations with Turkey. Ya’alon contacts the Turkish side along with Yosef Ciechanover, Israeli envoy to the UN commission, investigating the circumstances of conflict aboard “Marmara”. Israel still unequivocally states that it is not going to pray Turkish excuse and is only ready to express its pity of what happened. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports, contacts between Israel and Turkey go through two channels: Moshe Ya’alon contacts the general director of Turkish Foreign Ministry Pridon Sineralulu. These contacts appeared when Turkey helped Israel out with fighting fire in the north. Sineralulu has always adhered to the development of relations between Israel and Turkey. Ya’alon and Sineralulu have even repeatedly tried to work out the agreements regarding restoration of usual relations between two countries. The second channel of negotiations emerged between Yosef Ciechanover and his Turkish counterpart in the commission Uzadam Sanbark. Two of them are not only colleagues in the investigative commission but also the channel for information exchange between two countries.
Yet, neither Turkey, nor Israel put down their weapon just in case. Turkey is preparing another Freedom Flotilla, which ships suffer all sorts of mysterious accidents, preventing them from leaving for the sea. It doesn’t take much to guess that’s the doing of a famous Israeli intelligence. Greek authorities have even arrested the captain of one of Flotilla’s ships, which name (“Audacity of Hope”) speaks by itself — 60-year-old American citizen John Cloosmir — under the pretext of violating the port rules. Despite the UN acquittal, Israel apprehends another Flotilla, which it will have to stop, having paid with new blood and new round of tensions in the relations with the Islamic world. Turkey, though, is mostly interested in the propagandistic effect of the action that would allow reminding about itself as a Palestinian champion once again. Israel is frenetically looking for counter-measures against Turkey. Chink in Turkish armor is well-known. There’s no easier way to irritate them than to remind of genocide of Armenians in 1915.Quite naturally, Israeli Knesset has urgently started to discuss the matter.
True reason of aggravation of Israeli-Turkish relations is the matter of unilateral proclamation of Palestinian independence that is to be reviewed in the coming fall at the UN General Assembly session. Nabil Shaat, Fatah spokesman for the foreign matters, announced that. During the recent months Fatah representatives actively negotiate with various countries, calling to support them during the session. This Fatah policy is a piece in a sophisticated diplomatic game simultaneously directed against Hamas and Israel, yet its primary goal is the legitimization of this party as a representative of an entire Palestinian nation. Unilateral proclamation of Palestinian independence is non-paying for both Israel and the USA. All the more, according to Fatah claims, more than a hundred of states have already promised their support to the independent Palestine. When this issue is put point-blank, someone will have to negotiate with Palestine and beg it to wait a bit more and secure the consent of all process participants in order to observe the proprieties and not present Israel in an extremely unfavorable light. Armenians that died a century ago happened to be a minor card in that play. It will be dumped immediately after the sides reach an agreement. Turkey will act as the champion of peace in the Middle East and reap numerous political and economic benefits; Israel will save its face, having acknowledged the Palestinian independence, while the members of the Middle-Eastern conflict settlement “quartet” (UN, the USA, Russia and the EU) will bless this bargain.
As Armenian political writer Levon Shirinyan fairly noticed:
“They (Israel and Turkey) are partners, playing the same game, who kick each other under the table, yet remain friendly countries. And it’s just the same this time: neither Israel will recognize genocide of Armenians, nor Turkey will recognize independence of Palestine”.
These are the mores of Big Politics.
Source: Russian Interests