Ever since the storming of the Mavi Marmara by Israeli forces which led to the deaths of nine Turkish nationals, Turkish-Israeli have deteriorated. They hit a nadir last week as Turkey suspended all military ties with Israel and also expelled Israel’s ambassador from Turkey. Turkey is the only Muslim majority nation which had military ties with Israel, which wasn’t all that surprising since Turkey is a part of NATO and until recently, the Turkish military called the shots. An Israeli apology would have avoided the crisis and everyone wonders why Israel is willing to lose the only ally it has in the region.
Reputed Turkish journalist Omer Taspinar tells us that “According to the strategic assessment in Israel, it seemed that the relationship with Turkey was broken beyond repair. An apology would have allowed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to declare victory without really changing the structural flaws that have emerged in the bilateral partnership since 2006. The fact that Turkey was not only demanding an apology and compensation but also an end to the embargo over Gaza is very telling for the Israelis. This showed that normalization with Turkey was almost impossible as long as the Turkish government indexed its relations with Tel Aviv not just to bilateral factors but also to the Palestinian question.”
Reputed Israeli journalist Shmuel Rosner has posted a rejoinder. In a sense, Rosner agrees with Taspinar.
Egypt and Turkey were Israel’s closest friends in the region. After Mubarak fell, Egypt changes course and opened the crossings at Gaza. Of course, Israel has informal understandings with all Sunni monarchies in the middle-east, including Saudi Arabia, but the writing’s now on the wall. As democracy spreads in the middle-east, governments previously friendly with Israel are forced to become aggressive and demand a solution to the Palestinian question. Clearly, Israel is not willing to back down from its high horse, but its no-compromise attitude is not going to take it far in the current political climate.