Monday, August 08, 2011

A week of cautious optimism for Turkish-Israeli relations

There is cautious optimism in the air right before Turkish and Israeli officials meet once more this weekend in New York City to see if they can find appropriate language to patch up their much-damaged relations. The release of the U.N. Palmer Report, the investigation into the 2010 Gaza Flotilla incident, is likely to be delayed until July 27 – making it the effective ‘’deadline’’ for Israel to issue an apology over the incident.
Most of the Israeli government officials who opposed the notion of an apology in the past shifted their position with the notable exception of the radically right-wing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. While some argued that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s potential visit to Gaza might be another sticking point, the Israeli Embassy in Washington rejected this notion and told me that “this visit can be arranged between Turkey and Egypt, and Turkey doesn’t have to coordinate it with Israel.”
Israel, following active diplomatic lobbying, was able to avoid a second wave of flotillas, though it is losing a bigger PR battle in the eyes of the international community. It appears to be pushing forward with settlement expansion at full speed in occupied territories while passing undemocratic laws: like the anti-boycott law that effectively bans any public call for a boycott against Israel or any area under its occupation.
All the while, increasing demands for freedom, democracy and self-rule by Arab peoples across the region are creating an enormous challenge and need for the Israeli government to accommodate the Palestinians’ demand for a just state. Washington is also well aware that the unresolved Palestine-Israeli conflict negates much of the goodwill put forward by President Barack Obama through his conciliatory attitude toward the Muslim world. Just this week, a Zogby poll put the Obama administration’s approval ratings below the 10 percent threshold – even worse than that of the previous administration.
On the other hand, the Arab Spring so far has proven to be an effective factor pushing Washington and Ankara closer, and Ankara’s rhetoric has fallen in line with Washington’s on the brutalities of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime – something that has created friction in Ankara-Tehran relations. Washington, especially following the Justice and Development Party, or AKP’s, sound election victory, is doing everything not to infuriate Ankara and crowned the good relations with the successful secretary-of-state visit last week.
Another reason for optimism at this time for Turkey-Israel relations is the very effective Jewish-American organizations’ change of stance toward the AKP government. David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, stated, ‘’Arab Spring once more proves the significance of the Turkey-Israel relationship…which has natural affinity,’’ while it showed how problematic Ankara’s close relations are with the Assad and Moammar Gadhafi regimes. Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, in another interview said, “Now the elections are over and it is time to build the relations... Erdoğan is a good person... we are optimistic and we hope that tensions, also for the Turkish-Jewish people for some time, will end.”
Ari Goldberg, a spokesperson of the AIPAC, a powerful and conservative Israeli lobby, one that had especially problematic relations with the AKP said, “Both of us want to put the ugliness of the last year behind. It is time for this relation to go forward.”
Both sides, so far, appear to want to repair relations for various reasons, in addition to the strong push by Washington, which spent a considerable amount of time mending the ties between its friends in the last two years.
Better relations with Israel can create an opportunity and give leverage to Turkey to contribute to the peace process, which would also do much to synchronize all three governments’ efforts to actively support the region’s demand for democracy and freedom against undemocratic rulers.

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Guest - Saliha
2011-07-29 02:04:04
Israel Apartheid? Give me a break! Arabs are 20% of the population, are full citizens w/same rights as Jews, serve in the military, are Members of Parliament, University Presidents,etc. Palestine/Arab states are Apartheid... no Jews even allowed!

Guest - Chris Athens
2011-07-24 23:17:47
@ Murat since you seem so sensitive about civilian blood, should I assume that you expect killers of Tassos Isaac and Solomos Solomou (Cyprus 11/8/1996) to face the court too, or your sensitivity is conveniently selective?

Guest - Thessalonian
2011-07-24 21:27:47
Once again Erdogan cuts off his nose attempting to discipline others. Cyprus, EU and the Israel. He does however have a good relationship with Iran's Ahmadinejad, Syria's Assad and Libya's Gadhafi and Palestine's Hammas. Way to go Turkey!

Guest - ManInTheMiddle
2011-07-24 18:53:24
@Danny, it must have gone over your head but Syria and Libya have never claimed they are democracies, value human rights, and share "western values"! Israel, as a Jewish Apartheid, keeps making those claims. BTW, your bigotry slip is showing.

Guest - Strange are Iranian less worth
2011-07-24 18:41:18
Murat. The Iranian regime, with its Moral Police, is making life miserable for millions of Muslims. The conditions in prisons are horrible and include torture and rape. But I can not recall that you shout the same hate against Iranian government.

Guest - Yitzhak
2011-07-24 17:11:50
When Turkey apologizes to Armenians, Greeks, Pontians, Syriacs, Cypriots and others it Ethnically Cleansed, then Israel may apologize for Mavi Marmara. Turkey has many more apologies to deliver than Israel, Mr. Erdogan. Your hands are not clean.

Guest - Yaacov
2011-07-24 17:07:33
Most Israelis could care less about a relationship with Turkey. That nation is becoming the second Iran in the region under PM Erdogan. He's an Islamic extremist. Turkey should apologize to Israel for Davos, first.

Guest - Murat
2011-07-24 12:30:21
It stands to logic that the party with blood of civilians on their hands should do more to reconcile. Too late for apologies. Killers should face a real court.

Guest - ALI
2011-07-24 11:40:49
The new Turkish foreign policy in the regıon, requires them to support the values ​​of freedom and justice, thus supporting Palestine .. Death to the occupation and the system of racism

Guest - devy Wolff
2011-07-24 09:52:10
F.M. Avigdor Lieberman "radically right wing", you make me laugh. He is an israeli patriot and articulates the truth, wether you turks like it or not. The UN report will show the facts. No need for any apology.

Guest - Canuck
2011-07-24 07:01:16
For an apology, what is Israel getting in return from Mr. Erdogan "Pasha". - Zero! If so - it is Zero- apology he deserves and gets.As far as the Gaza trip- Enjoy your stay.

Guest - john inverness
2011-07-23 20:15:06
Erdogans demands for an apology serve to undermine him, Turkey provoked and started all this with Israel. Turkey is its own worst enemy. Where will relations deteriorate next I imagine. Likely within Turkey herself.

Guest - Mah
2011-07-23 19:59:28
Erdogan, pl. do not antagonize jews. Reconcillation would help Turkey, if not Israel. Jews are very intelligent, educated, and well off people - muslims have a lot to learn from them.

Guest - Kahan
2011-07-23 19:52:28
Mark, you are right. Let us be honest - Muslims are the greatest problems for muslims. They are in disarray; they kill one another; they do greatest harms to other muslims. They lack education, science, engineering, develpment.

Guest - SB
2011-07-23 19:07:03
DANNYB-Syria and Libya are not occupiers.IAN-Turkey was the first Muslim country scolded the Assad regime. JIM-If then why Obama,Hillary,and Petreus visited Turkey?MIKE-your numbers are right,but Russians picked up the slack.JD-you're lacking logic.

Guest - Bronxman
2011-07-23 15:11:20
Given the instability of most countries in the Middle East a rapprochement would definitely benefit both countries and the region. The alternative would have a strong negative impact.

Guest - Danny B
2011-07-23 14:42:36
Jan: it just shows the hypocrisy of the Muslim world, while they call Israel as Apartheid country, murderers and ethnic cleaners , they kill each other with great success. Didn't see Syrian or Libyan flags burning in the streets like Israeli flag.

Guest - ian
2011-07-23 11:13:02
wheres turkeys pm and public in regard to the daily massacres happening in syria wheres the anger the street demonstrations the public outcry the indignation the burning of flags. muslims killing muslims . doesn't really rate

Guest - Jim Hale
2011-07-23 07:52:24
Not sure what unreality this author lives in. Ankara and Washington are not close at all. Israel has stated it will not apologize nor should they, and finally the Palestinians are the main problem towards a peace agreement not the Israelis.

Guest - BlueMike
2011-07-23 02:00:02
Rapprochement is more important to Turkey than to Israel. Turkey lost 200,000 Israeli tourists and watches a new relationship between Israel and Greece. The UN Mavi Marmara commission will exonerate Israel. Mr. Erdoan had led Turkey into disaster.

Guest - Mark
2011-07-23 01:23:46
Where is turkey when million of Muslim Somalian suffers the worst drought in more than half a century, where today only Christian people gelling out these people. What is the different between Palestinian & Somalian isn't both muslim?

Guest - jdenver
2011-07-23 00:31:18
Is this the best logic you have for Turkey's side? Turkey should apologize for sending a ship of terrorists to Israel and Israel will NEVER trust Turkey again. The AKP has alienated the EU, the US and Israel. Stay in your neighborhood.

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