The Turkish government's decision to ban an Israeli military aircraft carrying a group of officers and soldiers from flying over its territory sends a very significant message to the Jewish state. Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is determined not to back down in his political confrontation with Israel, which peaked with Israel's hijacking of an aid convoy during which nine Turkish citizens were killed.
Up until now, Israeli military aircraft have used Turkish airspace more or less freely on flights to and from Europe or during joint military exercises with Turkey or the United States. The Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara has changed all of that.
Mr. Erdogan called on Israel to meet certain conditions in order for relations between the two former close allies to be restored. These were an apology for the aggression against the aid convoy, financial compensation for the families of the victims, a return of the hijacked vessels to their owners, and agreement to an international inquiry under the UN into the incident.
These conditions are reasonable, as Israel violated international law by attacking the ships which were in international waters and flew the Turkish flag. In addition, all of the ships in the convoy sailed from a Turkish port and did not carry any banned substances or weapons; Israel was the first to know that fact after it unloaded the ships in the port of Ashdod. The attack could thus reasonably be said to be an attack on Turkish sovereignty.
Israel has in the past demanded that the Vatican issues an apology for anti-Semitic attacks that took place centuries ago, and made the same demand of Germany for what happened during the Nazi era, and received massive compensation into the bargain. It is reasonable to ask, therefore, why the Jewish state is so reluctant to apologise for its own illegal actions.
Turkey's prime minister has managed to humiliate Israel because he took a principled stand and had broad popular support at home and abroad. Above all else, his stance has been based on international law and conventions which clearly show Israel's actions to be those of a criminal state.
We are confident that Mr. Erdogan will continue in this admirable vein and insist on the Israelis meeting all of his conditions for a normalisation of relations. He has every legal and moral right to do so, teaching Israel and its government a lesson in ethics and respect for international law in the process.
Source: Al Quds Al Arabi's view