It appears that, like Israel, Turkey’s government is working to reduce expectations of a reconciliation between Ankara and Israel, just as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has in Jerusalem.
The Ankara edition of ‘Today’s Zaman’ published an article Monday headlined: ‘Turkey FM says Israel wanted Erdogan ousted from power, put off deal.”
From the very first paragraph, the article laid the blame for any failure of reconciliation talks at Israel’s doorstep – as Turkey has consistently to this point.
“Turkey’s top diplomat has claimed that Israel has been cold to rapprochement with Turkey because of raised expectations about Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan being ousted from power,” the paper reported.
“Briefing lawmakers in Parliament last Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the framework agreement with Israel was already in place several years ago, saying his government has been in talks with the Israeli side on the same issues that were reported today. ‘In fact, there was a main agreement in place on all these issues, but why was Israel not approaching to [finalize the deal]?” he asked, adding that Israel has been waiting on the departure of Erdogan from power…’”
The foreign minister repeated Turkey’s conditions for the normalization of ties, which include the payment of compensation over the deaths of those who died in the 2010 Mavi Marmara debacle.
What is interesting and new is the position allegedly expressed by Cavusoglu, that Turkey insists on ‘lifting the Israeli embargo on Gaza (the use of language here, as with all diplomatic issues, is very important) and that “Turkey wants to help Gaza residents, including providing electricity to the strip.”
According to Today’s Zaman “the Turkish government’s priority is on lifting the embargo rather than the blockade and hopes to channel development assistance to rebuild Gaza.” (ed.-italics added)
This is the first time Turkey has changed its demand for Israel to drop its blockade of Gaza and instead moved to a request to lift the ’embargo,’ adding a suggestion that it be able to aid in supplying electricity to the enclave.
Despite Ankara’s leanings towards the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey nevertheless might prove helpful in preventing Hamas from stealing the construction supplies that now go missing to rebuild military infrastructure rather than residential neighborhoods.
On the other hand, one must question whether Turkey is hoping to play a role in Gaza in order to establish a presence in the face of another recently-demoted former ally, Egypt. Israel has in the meanwhile strengthened its relations with Cairo, which has increasingly lost patience with Turkey’s foster son, Hamas.
Cavusoglu also revealed that Israeli officials have expressed concern Turkey would continue its public criticisms after a deal is finalized.
“If Israel continues to implement these policies, including illegal settlements and attacks on Palestine, then we’ll naturally criticize; we are very clear and open about this,” the Turkish foreign minister was quoted as saying.
And herein lies one of the problems: Turkey seems to feel free to interfere in the internal domestic national security issues of other sovereign nations but takes great umbrage when others do the same.
For instance, Ankara has no problem taking on the role of advocate for Hamas, the terrorist organization spawned by the Muslim Brotherhood that rules Gaza, and which has been responsible for countless mained, wounded and dead in Israel. Turkey even welcomed Hamas to establish its international headquarters in Istanbul.
But were another sovereign nation to take the same stance on behalf of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), the internationally-recognized terrorist group located in Turkey’s southeastern sector, one wonders how Ankara would respond.
Somehow, Turkey fails to see the parallel.
Negotiators from Ankara and Jerusalem are once more trying to work out a way to regain the relationship the former allies once enjoyed. It has been mutually rewarding and is now needed by both as the region faces an impending onslaught by the hordes of Da’esh (ISIS).
Hana Levi Julian