The State of Turkish-Israeli Relations

The importance of peace and stability between and within states cannot
be gainsaid as far as the economic growth and wellbeing is concerned.
Indeed, peace comes as a guarantee to all other fundamental human rights
as it would be difficult to enjoy them without peace. Needless to say,
recent times have seen a proliferation of numerous conflicts within and
between states. Of course, these conflicts have different basis and are
of different magnitudes with potential losses differing immensely.
Indeed, the advances in technology and weaponry have taken the magnitude
and extent of international conflicts to an entirely new level. However,
the effects of these conflicts between nations go beyond the parties
that are directly involved, especially considering the interdependence
of nations with which globalization has come. While there may be
numerous international conflicts, none seems to stand out as much as the
Turkish-Israeli conflict. Indeed, as much as there may be differing
opinions as to the future of this conflict, there is no doubt that there
is no peace agreement in sight.
The deterioration of the Turkish-Israeli relations was triggered by the
2010 clashes involving Israeli commandos and a ferry carrying aids
workers. The six ships, according to BBC, had been boarded in
international waters approximately 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the
coast of Israel. The ships were delivering aid in Gaza, an action that
broke the Egyptian and Israeli blockade on the territory. Activists
stated that they wanted to underline the fact that the blockade, in
their view was largely illegal under international law. However, the
defiance of the international blockade triggered an immediate action
from Israeli commandos who landed on the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara, the
largest ship in the convoy, using ropes from helicopters. A conflict
broke out immediately, resulting in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals
and the wounding of 70 more aid workers. Of course, there is controversy
as to which side started the conflict, with different sides coming up
with different versions of the story. The flotilla had been organized by
a group referred to as The Free Gaza Movement, which is an umbrella body
for activists from a large number of nations, and a Turkish group known
as the Foundation of Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid
(IHH). While Turkey sees IHH as a completely legitimate charity, the
Israeli administration sees it as a terrorist group with close link to
the “terrorist group” called Palestinian Islamist Movement Hamas, as
well as a member of The Union of the Good, which Israel says supports
suicide bombings.
Reconciliation efforts have been less than fruitful especially with
regard to the different demands and expectations that the two parties
have. In March 2013, the two countries with the help of the United
States started the reconciliation process. Turkish Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan had demanded that Israel apologizes for the atrocities
they meted against Turkey and compensates the victims of the raid. In
addition, Mr. Erdogan had demanded that Israel lifts the blockade it has
imposed on Gaza. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone
ahead and fulfilled the first condition through rendering his apologies
to the Turkish people for any operational mistakes that may have
resulted to loss of life and property. However, the two countries are
stuck second condition regarding compensation. Turkey has been demanding
that Israel compensates $1 million for each of the families of the
individuals who died in the strike. More money is to be remitted to the
individuals injured in the strikes. However, Israel has only been
willing to compensate the families of the dead a sum of $100,000 to each
of the families of the deceased. Even more contentious has been the
third condition concerning the elimination of the Israeli blockade of
the Gaza strip. This is an extremely tough condition for Israel
especially considering its security concerns regarding Gaza. Indeed,
Israel has been insisting on blocking any shipments to Gaza including
cement insisting that they are used as rocket propellers attacking
Israel. It is worth noting that, while turkey has been insisting that
the last condition must be met for any relations to be restarted, Israel
has made little effort to meet it. Indeed, it has only conditionally
allowed goods to enter Gaza as long as they are passed through its check
points.
While this may be taken as a positive step, it is worth noting that the
conflict between the two states is deeper than it seems. Indeed,
scholars have underlined the deep hatred for Israel that the Turkish
prime minister harbors. As Uzan (2013) states, Erdogan’s ideology
revolves around the view that Zionism or Judaism is a worldwide, as well
as historical conspiracy that aims at ruling the entire world for
centuries. In addition, it is built on the belief that the communism,
Christianity and freemasonry are Zionist or Jewish, where they make up
the public face of a continuing international conspiracy by the Jews in
an effort to rule and dominate the world. This may have emanated from
the fact that Erdogan grew up at a time when Necmettin Erbakan was
coming up with a political manifesto which identified the national
decline of Turkey as emanating from its attempts to copy the Western way
of life. The 1969 manifesto stated that the problem would only be solved
through gradual disengagement from the “Zionist” states such as the
EU and the West, and having economic cooperation with the Islamic states
replacing them. Of course, its easy to see the Israel-leaning undertones
of the article, which can be explained by the fact that the writer works
at Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya (IDC) in Israel. Nevertheless, the
political implications of the Turkish prime minister’s demeanor cannot
be easily ignored.
Underlining the impossibility of a resolution any time soon is the
attitudes that the citizens of both states have about any truce.
According to a research study published in Daily News, 71% of Israelis
believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should never had
apologized to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident. In addition, 55% of
Israelis believe that the blame for the deterioration of the relations
between the two countries should be laid on the regional and global
ambitions of Turkey. This is because the Israel-bashing would popularize
Turkey in the eyes of Iran and other Islamic countries that are deemed
hostile to Israel. Turkey, on the other hand, does not seem to be in a
hurry to reconcile with Israel especially with Turkish prime minister
seeing the incident as a personal affront as he was, at the time of the
clash, mediating between Palestine and Israel. Indeed, the Turks stated
that there was no guarantee that the IDF officers and soldiers involved
in the raid would not be prosecuted as “the executive branch has no
influence on the judiciary”. This exposes the previous unity between
the two countries for what it was: a relationship of convenience rather
than a strategic one. While the Turkish administration did not enjoy
popular support for the relationship, it benefited immensely from
enhanced relations with the U.S, especially with regard to access to
weapons, Armenian genocide issues, as well as balancing Syria when the
leader of the Kurdish insurgency was holed up in Damascus. The two
countries also benefited from economic cooperation, with Israel gaining
militarily. However, in light of the opposition that the citizens of
both countries have towards each other, it is unlikely that the
political class will be willing to sacrifice its popularity on the altar
of backing down.
In conclusion, peace and security comes as one of the most crucial
aspects of the society as no productive economic activity can be
undertaken without sufficient security. Recent times have seen a
proliferation of conflicts between nations with one of the most
contentious revolving around the Israeli-Turkish relations. While this
conflict may have been triggered by the May 2010 clash that saw the 9
Turkish nationals die and 70 others injured, there have been deeply-set
ideological differences that thwart any possibility of a resolution in
the near future. The Turkish prime minister has severally expressed his
disdain for Israel, not to mention that a large number of Turks do not
support the cooperation between the two countries. This is complemented
by the fact that a large number of Israelis feel that the apology should
never have been given. It, therefore, goes without saying that
reconciliation between the two states is unlikely to take the relations
between them to the level in which they were prior to their conflicts.
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_not_change.html”
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take.aspx?PageID=238&NID=49912&NewsCatID=359″
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/israelis-think-apology-to-turkey-a-mist
ake.aspx?PageID=238&NID=49912&NewsCatID=359
Shiffer, Shimon. Officials: Turkey humiliating Israel. YNet News, June
2013, HYPERLINK
“http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4397163,00.html”
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4397163,00.html
Aras, Bülent. Turkish-Israeli Relations after the Apology. The German
Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) 2013
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