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

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora