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Despite Turkish posturing, detente with Israel won’t change the Gaza blockade

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Israel and Turkey announced this afternoon a detente, ending a six-year diplomatic rift. Relations broke down in 2009 after Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish nationals during the seizure of a passenger ship, which departed from Turkey as part of the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” a sea convoy packed with aid and activists.

Among the casualties was a dual U.S.-Turkish citizen, Furkan Dogan who was 19.

As a term of the agreement, Turkey will pass a law to make illegal any “criminal and civil claims” against Israel or it’s military forces for the death of the activists, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Rome.

Netanyahu added the blockade over the Gaza Strip, which was an area of dispute between the two countries, will remain in full. “This is our supreme security interest; I was not prepared to compromise on it,” he said.

Yet speaking to reporters in Ankara,Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim alluded to a lessening of Israeli restrictions over Gaza—which were not guaranteed by Israel in the talks.

The “Gaza embargo to be largely lifted,” he said, adding “Turkish ship[s] carrying 10,000 tons of aid will move toward [the] Israeli port of Ashdod on Friday,” reported the Turkish outlet Anadolu Agency.

While Gaza’s border will still remain under Israeli control, the agreement will include Turkish construction of a hospital, power plant and water sanitation facility in the Strip, and the financing of an industrial zone in the northern West Bank. In turn Israel will pay $20 million in reparations for the deaths of the Turkish citizens.

In Turkey the pact was criticized by parties close to the victims. The charity organization IHH, where the killed activists aboard the MV Mavi Marmara volunteered, released a 15-point criticism of the pact.

“Humanitarian aid in Gaza is only part of the issue. In Gaza, the problem is mainly freedom,” IHH said on social media.

Gaza’s governing authority Hamas has yet to comment on the deal. On Friday Hamas Khaled Mashaal traveled to Turkey to met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for private talks. While the exact terms of the deal have not been disclosed, Haaretz’s Barak Ravid reported an official said the Gaza government will be left out all together. “There are absolutely no references to Hamas in the agreement,” said the source.

In Rome the agreement was praised by Secretary of State John Kerry who spoke alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning hours before the negotiations concluded. The two also met Sunday night.

Kerry relayed backing from the Obama administration, Vice President Joe Biden in particular, who volunteered an American oil and gas expert to facilitate concurrent economic talks on a suspected adjoining energy agreement between Israel and Turkey.

“The United States welcomes this step. It is something we have talked about for several years,” Kerry said of a potential oil and gas deal.

Netanyahu added the agreement would have “ immense implications for the Israeli economy.”

“And I use that word advisedly – immense implications for the Israeli economy, and I mean positive immense implications,” he said.

Yet back in Israel the normalization of relations was received with skepticism.

Officials from the opposition party decried the $20 million in Israeli indemnities. The Zionist Union’s Issac Herzog wrote on social media “Every Hebrew mother should know that right-wing politicians will compensate her son’s attackers.”

Words of support came from Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin during a meeting with Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon.

“I understand the many Israelis that disagree or feel hurt by the agreement, but our elected leaders have the responsibility to act in the country’s best interest,” said Rivlin. “There are no shortcuts in the Middle East. Hatred spreads much faster than hope, and the only way to move forward is direct negotiations,” he added.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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18 Responses

  1. Kay24 on June 27, 2016, 11:55 am

    This is my point too. How can the Palestinians get the support they badly need, and the help to pressurize their occupier to end the occupation, when Muslim nations like Turkey and so many others, want to be BFF with Israel for their own selfish reasons? When will any of the ME nations do what is right and help the Palestinians instead of wringing their hands when it suits them to criticize Israel, then for various unknown reasons, decide that the occupier is useful to them and that it is time to forgive and forget and sing kumbaya with them again? This comedy keeps getting played over and over again throughout the years.

    • silamcuz on June 27, 2016, 8:53 pm

      On what basis is Turkey a Muslim nation? Most Turks profess to the Islamic faith, but the political entity of the Turkish state is rooted in secular ideals. Actually some of my colleagues in the activism field have noted that Turkey is quite structurally similar to Israel, in that it exploits islam as a political tool, just like Judaism is used and abused in Israel. In reality, Turkey is a racist, fascist country that was founded by a set of treasonous, genocidal right wing radicals who worshipped only themselves. Hence its no surprise that they are close allies of the US and the West, despite appearing to be Islamic. Crooks always find company among other crooks.

      • Cazador on June 28, 2016, 9:09 pm

        «In reality, Turkey is a racist, fascist country that was founded by a set of treasonous, genocidal right wing radicals who worshipped only themselves.»

        Could that be an heritage of the Ottomans?

        Thanks for the description of similarities.

      • echinococcus on June 29, 2016, 1:00 am

        Not exactly, my Cazador friend. The Ottoman dynasties were imperial, multinational and essentially non-nationalist; the Union and Progress nationalist Turk officers (the “Young Turks” in history) who rebelled and brought the Parliament started by recruiting the minorities, to then turn against them and start the (multiple) genocidal actions.

      • silamcuz on June 29, 2016, 3:25 am

        Could that be an heritage of the Ottomans?

        I am not an historian so I am not qualified to answer this with the academic rigour the question merits. From my personal knowledge on the subject, I believe the Young Turks were influenced with the Westphalian nation-states concept that were rapidly gaining traction all over Europe during the period. Ottomans never really gave any importance to nationality during their rule, and embraced a pluralistic society of many faiths and cultures under the dominion of the Caliph. The royal house, which were the seat of power of the empire, contained members from a diverse set of nations and ethnicities that legitimized their positions through marriage.

        Thanks for the description of similarities.

        Sarcasm duly noted. I assumed that the commonalities between Israel and Turkey would not be difficult to research on once the matter is brought to attention. Here’s a good read on the fascist origins of the modern Turkish state.

        Republic of Turkey – the First Fascist State in History

        Comparing it with the numerous recollection of how Israel was founded and operated, I am certain you will be able to see that these two nations are far more alike than one may otherwise think.

      • biggerjake on June 29, 2016, 10:59 am

        The First Fascist State was an interesting article and my first real exposure to the real history of Turkey. I see what you mean about the similarities between Israel and Turkey. It seems that Erdogan is following in the same fascist footsteps as some of his predecessors…

        As usual, the comment section of Mondoweiss is just as informative (and just as important) as are the articles. If only that was true of the MSM…

        The commenters here are an order of magnitude better and better informed than any other site I know of.

        Even though Turkey is a difficult and complicated country to understand, I respect their efforts to break the Israeli blockade of Palestine. I wish that the other countries in the region were also doing something to try to help the Palestinians, but they seem content to ignore the immoral occupation and oppression of Palestine.

    • Misterioso on June 28, 2016, 12:27 pm

      The vast majority of the Turkish people detest Israel and support for President Erdogan is in serious decline.

  2. amigo on June 27, 2016, 2:09 pm

    Eu to Turkey—make nice with Israel if you want to join the EU.We happen to have a vacant space at the moment so get your resume updated and we will go to work on the naysayers.

  3. jon s on June 27, 2016, 4:10 pm

    Allison Deger’s reports, correctly, that the agreement with Turkey is being widely criticized in Israel. However, it’s not only because of the compensation to the families of the Marmara casualties. There’s also the issue of returning the remains of the two fallen IDF soldiers and the two Israeli civilians being held in Gaza.

    I’d also point out that despite the diplomatic rift, commercial ties between Israel and Turkey have remained strong over the past years, as I can see in all the made-in-Turkey items in my local supermarket, and the huge popularity of Turkish Airlines

    • a blah chick on June 27, 2016, 5:25 pm

      “There’s also the issue of returning the remains of the two fallen IDF soldiers and the two Israeli civilians being held in Gaza.”

      Weren’t one or both of the fallen soldiers “Hannibaled” by the IDF? Also I believe the Ethiopian-Israeli fellow is no longer in Gaza. As for the Bedouin guy, the other Israeli, the government has shown no interest in getting him back, so why now?

      • jon s on June 28, 2016, 1:17 am

        a blah chick,

        “Weren’t one or both of the fallen soldiers “Hannibaled” by the IDF?”
        No. (and even if so, what difference does it make, regarding the return of the remains?)

        “Also I believe the Ethiopian-Israeli fellow is no longer in Gaza.”
        Where did you see that information?

        “As for the Bedouin guy, the other Israeli, the government has shown no interest in getting him back, so why now? ”
        Because of the deal with Turkey, which includes humanitarian aid to Gaza. These are also humanitarian cases.

    • Leahj on June 28, 2016, 2:49 am

      jon s, “There’s also the issue of returning the remains of the two fallen IDF soldiers and the two Israeli civilians being held in Gaza. ”

      If the Israelis want something from Gaza, they should be talking to/ negotiating with Gaza, not Turkey. Of course, the Gazans must have learned by now that the Israelis’ word is worthless.

      • Marnie on June 28, 2016, 7:57 am

        “If the Israelis want something from Gaza, they should be talking to/ negotiating with Gaza, not Turkey.”

        That’s just crazy enough to make sense! Wait a sec, everyone ‘must have learned by now that the Israelis’ words are worthless.

  4. Katie Miranda on June 27, 2016, 5:41 pm

    I wonder how much of the gas getting sent to Turkey is actually stolen offshore from Gaza ?
    Perhaps by buying the Israeli control gas, Turkey is just cementing the continuation of the blockade.

    • Misterioso on June 28, 2016, 12:28 pm

      The world is drowning in natural gas.

      • Cazador on June 28, 2016, 9:20 pm

        Indeed, but Israel is making lots of shekels selling Palestinian water to Palestinians, why not sell Palestinian and possibly Lebanese gas to other countries, like Turkey for instance? A morale country like Israel is never short of money making ventures and commerce, especially field-tested-proven weapons, all over Gaza, with thousands of dead and many more injured at nearly every Israeli national election… There’s no better wake-up call for zionist Israelis to elect and re-elect the official who organized the weaponry show each time. And it’s for Israel’s existence and the usual only means to lure the whole world. Is it still working? BDS will be the final proof of the pudding.

  5. genesto on June 28, 2016, 4:12 pm

    As a participant in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, I’m especially angered by this agreement! It is, essentially, no different than the offer Israel has made a number of times previously. It’s no more than a payoff to avoid prosecution of the criminals responsible for the murder of 10 Turks, and for the injuries inflicted on dozens of others. It also relieves them from any accountability for the illegal kidnapping and incarceration of over 460 of us, and the theft of all of our valuable possessions. What this agreement actually does is REWARD Israel for its part in this international crime and paves the way for more such crimes to occur in the future.

    Already, the IHH has condemned this agreement. I would expect the families of the victims to do so too. Israel may think it has bought its way out of trouble (BTW, do US taxpayers get to pay for this too?) but this isn’t over yet!

    • Cazador on June 28, 2016, 9:34 pm

      What’s most upsetting after all those Mavi Marmara deaths and injuries is the fact that it was DEFINITELY A PIRACY ACT IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS. When will zionists be facing the music like all other countries when they laugh at the whole world, starting at the UN’s Charter and Resolutions? Of course… I forgot they’re the well paid, supported, defended EXCEPTIONAL INFANT, for now still, of the EXCEPTIONAL EMPIRE South of my country’s border, and the nukes will be hitting us just as they’ll hit the EMPIRE, THAT IS DOING ITS BEST TO TRIGGER THE FINAL HUMAN SOLUTION FROM RUSSIA. And the US still thinks it’s the very best country in the world, the defender of democracy, of capitalism, of free…dom…, or should I say LIBERTY, while it has its nose into the business of all the countries that can’t reply with a NO! militarily to the US’ constant attempts at ruling them. Strangely enough, Russia is the country that has the military to say NO, NO, AND NO! To be polite… But the US is not satisfied with the final answer to the final solution.

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