News / Europe

Turkey-Israel Relations Reach New Low

A banner depicting the faces of the nine men killed, displayed on the Mavi Marmara ship, the lead boat of a flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip which was stormed by Israeli naval commandos in a predawn confrontation in the Mediterranean May 31, 2010, on its
A banner depicting the faces of the nine men killed, displayed on the Mavi Marmara ship, the lead boat of a flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip which was stormed by Israeli naval commandos in a predawn confrontation in the Mediterranean May 31, 2010, on its

Turkey and Israel are set for a diplomatic showdown with the scheduled publication of a United Nations report this Friday into the killing last year by Israeli security forces of nine Turkish citizens on a boat attempting to break Israel's economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.  The release of the U.N. report has been repeatedly delayed to give time to diplomatic efforts to reconcile the two formerly close allies.

Since last year's killing of nine Turkish citizens by Israeli forces, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Israel to apologize and compensate the families of those killed.  Equally resolute, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said there is nothing to apologize for.  The impasse has severely damaged bilateral relations of the formerly close allies.  But Erdogan has warned things could get a lot worse.

He says unless Israel offers an apology, pays compensation, and removes the embargo against the Gaza Strip, it is not  possible for Turkey-Israel relations to improve.  Erdogan says that from now on, Turkey as well as the families will take some steps, so a new phase will be beginning.

The expected publication this Friday of the U.N. report into the killings is the deadline set by Ankara for its demands to be met.  Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu earlier this month said that both Washington and Jerusalem are aware of the sanctions Turkey is prepared to impose against Israel.  International relations expert Soli Ozel says Ankara has options.

"Turkey can lower the level of its relations in Israel, pushing for the recognition of Palestinian statehood," said Ozel. "It can try to sue [the] Israeli military and politicians in international courts.  Whether they can pull this off or not, I don't know, which is why I think the Americans are so adamant that things don't get out of hand."

According to both Turkish and Israeli media reports, a proposal by the U.S. for what is described as a softened Israeli apology in exchange for normalizing relations has so far been rejected by Jerusalem.  Diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz says such an intervention is an indication that Washington is aware of Turkey's growing importance in the increasingly volatile Middle East.  That importance, Idiz claims, is a key factor behind Ankara maintaining its tough stance towards Jerusalem.

"We are dealing with a very different kind of environment now in the Middle East," said Idiz.  "Turkey has a greater presence, if not with some regimes, at least with the people in the region.  And so it is not so vital for Turkey as it might have been in the past to have good relations with Israel."

But despite deteriorating diplomatic relations, bilateral trade has continued to flourish.  International relations expert Ozel believes whatever happens, trade will be left largely untouched.

"Trade embargo, I doubt it," said  Because the trade volume is almost $3 billion between the two countries, non-military.  So it will hurt some of the constituents of Erdogan as well."

Trade is still a card Israel can play.  The Turkish military is urgently buying sophisticated equipment in the face of a resurgence in fighting against the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK.  At the top of its list are drones, of which Israel is a main supplier.  As alternative provider the U.S. is tied up due to its own military demands, Ankara may have a vested interest in at least maintaining trade relations with Israel.  However, political columnist Asla Aydintasbas says Erdogan has limited room to maneuver.

"Knowing [the] prime minister's personality and knowing the importance of this issue for Turkey, I don't see how Turkey can accept anything short of an apology.  And frankly there is not a word, which is an apology in English or an apology in Turkish, but is different in Hebrew.  It is just what it is," said the columnist.

International diplomatic efforts are expected to intensify to find a compromise, as Turkey's deadline for its demands to be met nears.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

1 Billion People Used Facebook on Single Day

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the accomplishment in a posting on the social media site More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs