Turkey Expels Israeli Ambassador, Suspends Military Ties
Turkey announced Friday it would expel the Israeli ambassador and suspend military ties with Israel because Israel has refused to apologize for its actions against Turkish ships attempting to enter Gaza a year and a half ago.
Turkey had called for an Israeli apology before the United Nations’ Palmer Report into the blockade was published.
The Palmer Report, however, largely exonerated Israel and called for Israel to express regret and pay compensation to the families of the Turkish casualties, something that Israel has long offered to do. Ron Ben-Yishai summarizes the report for Ynetnews:
In the first part, the report’s authors unequivocally justify the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip both legally and morally, as well as Israel’s right to impose this blockade in international waters. …
However, the report’s second part rules that although Israel had the right to stop the Marmara and other vessels, the means adopted by it were disproportional, hasty, and contradicted common maritime procedures. Moreover, the committee claims that once Israel discovered that Marmara passengers were violently resisting the Navy raid and harming the commandos, the operation should have been stopped and a new assessment should have been made.
Ben-Yishai notes that several of the conclusions of the second part of the report are outrageous—for example, how do you pause in the middle of a fight, without abandoning your fellow soldiers?—but points out:
The Palmer Report makes it apparent that its authors made a great effort to maintain objectivity and fairness, yet at the same time they were aware that they work in the service of the UN, which is a political organization. This created the need to “balance” the assertions and conclusions in a way that would satisfy both sides and pave the way for reconciliation, as the UN chief and officials in Washington wanted.
Turkey is trying to become the dominant Islamic power in the region, so in order to increases its Islamic “street cred” it is criticizing Israel—a popular thing to do in the region. If Israel had apologized, then Turkey would have humiliated the “Zionist entity.”
In the absence of an apology, Turkey ordered all Israeli diplomats out of the country above “the second secretary level”—the lowest level in the Israeli Foreign Service.
“The time has come for Israel to pay for its stance that sees it above international laws and disregards human conscience,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. Despite the Palmer Report, Turkey still maintains that Israel’s naval blockade is illegal.
Turkey suspended joint military exercises with Israel after the Marmara incident. It has now extended that suspension to include “all military agreements.”
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Friday that the “steps announced today were just the first phase.”
“The Turkish-Israeli alliance is dead, and Israel will bleed for it,” we wrote after the Mavi Maramara incident. “This development calls to mind an intense and almost bewildering biblical prophecy that is about to unfold before our eyes. It graphically describes where the hatred for Israel we see exploding within Turkey will lead.”
To find out more about this prophecy, see our article “A Good Excuse to End a Bad Relationship.”