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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid