Reports: Israel to apologize for flotilla raid
The public rift between Israel and Turkey may be closing somewhat.
Persistent reports in the Turkish press indicate that Israel will formally apologize and pay compensation for the deaths on the Mavi Marmara.
The Mavi Marmara was the blockade-busting ship manned by Turkish citizens on which nine actvists were killed in unclear circumstances by Israeli naval commandos.
Turkish newspaper of record Hürriyet indicates that discussions of apology and compensation took place at a secret meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Benjamin Ben-Eliezer on Wednesday. According to Hürriyet’s source:
“There will be a second meeting if the Israeli side takes a step toward [meeting] our demands,” a Turkish diplomatic source told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Thursday. “We do not categorically dismiss meeting with Israeli officials at this level.”
Translated out of diplo-speak, this means that a new meeting on the demands is extremely likely to take place.
The demands themselves? As the paper’s Sevil Kücüjjosum puts it, “Israel has signaled it may compensate and apologize to families of some of the victims of its aid-flotilla raid.”
If true, this would signal a sea-change in Israel’s approach to the blockade fiasco; Israeli public diplomacy has been aggressive in painting the blockade-busters as violent terrorists.
The secret meeting between Davutoğlu and Ben-Eliezer was apparently designed to keep bellicose Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman out of the loop. Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu political party routinely indulges in anti-Arab agitation, subjected the Turkish ambassador to Israel to a humiliating public mocking several months ago.
Lieberman has threatened to resign as Foreign Minister in response, but it is likely an idle threat. The secret talks themselves were reportedly held at the behest of the United States, which did not want two important regional allies in a squabble.
Turkish foreign policy in the past two years has openly shifted towards an aggressive hybrid of pan-Turkic and pan-Islamic rhetoric which has alarmed both fellow NATO members and other Middle Eastern states.
But at the end of the day, Israel and Turkey maintain important trade ties that are likely to weather the current row. For all the widespread hatred of Israel in Turkey — and of Turkey in Israel — the two countries maintain extensive military ties that involve mutual arms purchases and a spider’s web of business reciprocations.
Strange how capitalism and arms manufacturers win at the end of the day, isn’t it?