Another Turkey

The deal announced between Israel and Turkey to renew diplomatic ties suits both countries, even though it does not fully satisfy either side.  In the six years since ties were broken over the Mavi Marmara incident, the Turkish ship that tried to break Israel’s legitimate blockade of Gaza that resulted in 9 Turkish deaths, much has changed.

Most importantly, Israel has engaged with Greece and Cyprus over their common oil deal from the large Israeli gas finds under the Mediterranean, while Turkey has gone more and more into isolation.  This deal is an attempt by Pres. Erdogan to reverse that slide.  Turkey has lost most of its Israeli and Russian tourists, .  The downing of the Russian plane over Turkish territory near Syria has reduced Turkish trade with Russia, and Turkey is short of cash.  It’s cheaper and easier for Turkey to make amends with Israel than with Russia. All they had to do was accept Israel’s apology for the Mavi Marmara incident, accept the Israeli money as compensation and give in on the blockade of Gaza.  As part of the agreement, in future all goods for Gaza will pass through the port of Ashdod, as Israel insisted in the first place, just so they can check there are no guns or rockets hidden in the cargo.

Turkey has also lost out in regard to their genocide of the Armenians in 1915 during WWI.  It is no secret that the Turkish Government decided then to remove this troublesome Christian community and so they sanctioned the murder of 1.5 million Armenians.  Ever since then they have tried to cover it up and claim that it was not an organized genocide.  But, France and the Vatican have both recently labelled it as a genocide and most thinking people know it was.  Israel cannot now publicly label it as such, in order to achieve this agreement.  There is no doubt that the agreement is not optimal from Israel’s side, mainly because it allows Hamas to remain in Turkey, but it is better to have your enemy inside the tent peeing out, than outside peeing in.

Meanwhile, even during the break of ties, trade between the two countries has been steadily increasing and it makes sense for Israel to have ties with a major Muslim country in the Middle East rather then have continued hostility.  This agreement serves the interest of both parties, but Israel can’t trust the Turks any more than they could a hostile enemy. The terrorist attack last night at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, probably by IS, that killed 41, will only make the Turks more nervous and more dependent on allies to share security information with them.

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