A meeting has been held in Geneva between Turkish and Israeli delegations trying to resolve the differences between the two countries. The Israelis in particular hope for a return to the relationship they enjoyed before the assault and massacre on the Freedom Flotilla carried out by their naval commandos at the end of May.
Since then, Turkey has insisted that the Israeli government gives an unambiguous apology and provides financial compensation for the families of the nine peace activists killed in cold blood on the Mavi Marmara. Israel offered a watered-down apology expressing sorrow for the attack and compensation, but the latter comes with strings attached; Turkey must not file any prosecutions papers against the personnel involved in the attack, and the Israeli ambassador must be allowed to return to Ankara. The gap between the two states remains wide, and may in fact get wider after statements made by Danny Ayalon, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, in which he objected to the apology, arguing that the Israeli troops acted in “self-defence”.
The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who impressed millions of Muslims by tackling the lies of Israeli President Shimon Peres in 2009 and insisting on the lifting of the siege on Gaza, is not ready to accept any agreement with Israel if it does not meet his country’s conditions. A few days ago he said that all the water in the Mediterranean Sea could not wash away the blood of his countrymen who were killed by Israeli troops. This is the strongest response yet to Israel’s offer.
Financial compensation, no matter how large, will not bring those killed by the Israelis back to their families, and no apology, no matter how powerful its words, can calm the fury of the Turkish people. They are not only angry about the killing of nine of their fellows, but also about the situation in Palestine itself the Israeli policy of Judaising occupied Jerusalem, digging under Al-Aqsa Mosque and the siege imposed, four years ago, against 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The Turkish government should take the case of Israeli terrorism against its ships and activists to the international war crimes court to bring to justice all those who took part or ordered the attack. It has been done for Serb war criminals and it was done for the Nazis before them; why not Israelis?
Turkey-Israel relations are in a state of unprecedented strife and it is difficult to see any improvement on the horizon, especially after the Israeli government launched a negative propaganda campaign against Ankara in neighbouring countries. Immediately after relations deteriorated, Israeli officials intensified their visits to countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, in order to try to revive old differences between them and Turkey. This is something that the Israelis have done before; their diplomats went to the countries at the sources of the River Nile to incite them against Egypt, resulting in a reduction of water for both Sudan and the Egyptians.
The Turkey of Mr. Erdogan is, however, a harder nut to crack and is refusing to yield to Israel’s pressure. The world is on Turkey’s side, fed up of Israeli arrogance reflected in the rejection of a settlement freeze which has scuppered the peace process and increased tension across the region.
Source: Al-Quds Opinion