On reading the terms under which Israel and Turkey are to restore diplomatic relations today I felt I ought to title this piece by paraphrasing Neville Chamberlain: “I have here a piece of paper…”.
Let’s start with the terms of the agrement:
Israel and Turkey are set to announce on Monday that they have reached a rapprochement agreement that will normalize relations between the two countries more than six years after ties between the erstwhile allies fell apart following the Mavi Marmara incident.
A senior diplomatic source said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will announce the agreement, and explain its elements, at a news conference at noon in Rome. The Turks will simultaneously hold a similar event in Ankara. Netanyahu arrived in Rome on Sunday for talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Right off the bat this angers me. Netanyahu should be announcing the agreement in Jerusalem! Let’s continue:
According to the senior Israeli source, the Turks have given Israel a letter pledging that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will direct the relevant Turkish authorities to work on a humanitarian basis for the return to Israel of two missing Israelis in Gaza – Avraham “Abera” Mengistu and a Beduin from the South – as well as the bodies of St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, the two soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
I am furious that the Turks can only bring themselves to be so “humanitarian” after being bribed to do so. Some humanitarianism!!
And there’s more:
• Turkey will be allowed to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip without limitation through the Ashdod port, and will be allowed to build, inside Gaza, power and desalination plants and a hospital. This is in lieu of a lifting of the blockade of Gaza, which Erdogan had demanded for years as a precondition for normalizing ties.
• Turkey will not allow Hamas to plan or carry out attacks against Israel from its territory. Turkey did not, as Israel demanded, agree to kick the terrorist organization out of the country. Erdogan, according to the Turkish press, met Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Istanbul on Friday to update him on the deal.
The implication of the term “Turkey will not allow Hamas to plan or carry out attacks against Israel” is that Turkey is one of the prime influences, if not the prime supporter of Hamas. This should make them our most deadly enemy and not any kind of peace partner – particularly as they have NOT agreed to kick out Hamas from their country. How far can we trust Erdogan? Not as far as we can throw him in my own humble opinion.
Instead of Netanyahu instructing the IDF to go in and finish the job,he has abdicated his and our responsibility to a foreign agent. How can we complain about Obama refusing to tackle Assad when we ourselves don’t take on a weak enemy right on our own border, not across the ocean, and outsource the work to a foreign agent?
The next term makes my blood boil:
• As a humanitarian act, Israel will pay $20 million to a special fund set up for the families of the nine victims killed on the Mavi Marmara by IDF commandos who faced violent resistance when they boarded the ship to keep it from breaking the naval blockade of Gaza.
It doesn’t matter how much Israel claims this is a “humanitarian act”. It will be taken – rightly – as an act of apology, which by extension means that Israel admits it did wrong when it killed the terrorists on board the Mavi Marmara. The only humanitarian act that should have taken place here is for Turkey to compensate Israel for the international condemnation that Israel received, the attempts to sue Israel at the ICC, the copy-cat flotillas and of course for the injuries to the IDF soldiers involved.
All becomes clear at this paragraph below:
Bloomberg reported that energy talks between the two countries are expected to open immediately after the reconciliation is announced, and that this could pave the way for multi-billion dollar natural gas contracts and the export of natural gas to Turkey, which is looking to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.
Israel has sold its soul for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. Indeed Netanyahu told Secretary of State John Kerry that the agreement will be a tremendous boost to Israel’s economy. Yes, Netanyahu and his government must look after our economy, but not at any price, whether monetary, politically or diplomatically.
This has all brought us to the point that the treasonous Arab List MK Hanin Zoabi speaks the truth when she said that Israel’s compensation agreement is admission of murder:
MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint List), who participated in the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla which ultimately resulted in the cutting of ties between Israel and Turkey, on Sunday night said the reconciliation agreement between the two countries was a clear “admission of murder” by Israel.
“Israel’s agreement to transfer 21 million shekels [sic. It is 21 million dollars -Ed.] to the Turks constitutes a clear admission of guilt. Even if Israel does not acknowledge it, it is a confession to the murder of nine people, wounding of dozens, kidnapping and piracy in international waters and false persecution,” she charged.
And of course, as clearly as night leads to day, the next call was inevitable:
Zoabi called for more flotillas like the Marmara one in order to remove the “criminal siege”, as she put it, over Gaza.
I also find myself in rare agreement with the Israeli opposition as they lambasted Netanyahu for the agreement:
“Netanyahu again puts his tail between his legs with Hamas, harms IDF soldiers without blinking, and harms the families of the missing [soldiers and civilians],” Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit said on Facebook. “Once again Mr. Security strengthens the radicals and weakens Israel.”His fellow party member Itzik Shmuli said that while relations with Turkey were important, Netanyahu went “too far” with the terms of the accord. “Where is the old [Defense Minister Avigdor] Liberman who would yell right about now that they’re giving a reward for terrorism?” he asked.
Former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar, who reportedly plans to run against Netanyahu in the next general elections, said he hoped the news reports about the Turkey deal were incorrect.
“If they are true, this is a national embarrassment and an invitation for more flotillas and libels by Israel haters,” he said.
One of the most egregious parts of the agreement, as I mentioned above, is the “outsourcing” to Turkey of the efforts return the bodies of slain IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul Hy’d, who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The families of the soldiers are rightly furious that the return of the bodies was not a pre-condition to Israel’s signing of the deal:
“I don’t accept the claim that Turkey has no leverage where returning the bodies of our boys from Gaza is concerned,” the mother of deceased 23-year-old IDF lieutenant Hadar Goldin told The Algemeiner on Sunday.
Dr. Leah Goldin was expressing her outrage and frustration at the discovery that the upcoming agreement between Jerusalem and Ankara, an official announcement about which is scheduled for Sunday evening does not mention the two young men who were abducted and killed by Hamas terrorists during a cease-fire in the midst of Operation Protective Edge – the war that Israel fought in the summer of 2014 against the Palestinian terrorist organization ruling the Gaza Strip.
“Turkey is Hamas’ patron,” she asserted. “Turkey is also a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey — with the whole Mavi Marmara story — proved to us that it is the country closest to Hamas and most concerned with taking care of Hamas interests. It cannot be that Turkey has no say.”
Because of Turkey’s support for Hamas, Goldin said, negotiations that have been going on for a few years now between the governments of Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should have included a stipulation for the return of Hadar and Oron, Goldin said, revealing that her grandson is now a soldier in the Golani Brigade. “He wanted to go into the combat unit to follow in his uncle’s footsteps,” she said.
“This is not only a humanitarian issue – and an Israeli value never to leave behind soldiers in battle – but it is a crucial message to the new crops of soldiers who will have to fight in the next war,” Goldin said, expressing disappointment that the young men were not used as a condition for reaching a deal with Turkey – especially after “being told by Netanyahu on an hour-long conference call recently, that everything was being done to return them to Israel for burial, and that nobody had forgotten us.”
“Until now, Hamas has abducted soldiers and demanded a heavy price from Israel for their release. The time has come to turn that equation on its head. Rather than waiting for Hamas to demand a price from Israel, a price from Hamas must be exacted for not returning the bodies.”
The government responded with one of the lamest responses I have ever heard:
According to Israel’s Channel 2, a senior government official explained that the reason that the return of the bodies was not included in the agreement with Turkey is that doing so would have provided Hamas with veto power over other elements of the deal.
It gets worse. Both Turkey and Hamas are declaring victory, rubbing salt into Israel’s wounds and increasing our national humiliation:
A senior Turkish official said the reconciliation deal reached between Israel and Turkey which is set to be signed on Tuesday was a diplomatic victory for Ankara.
The official said, according to Israel Radio, that even as Israel stood by its refusal to lift the blockade on Gaza — one of Turkey’s conditions for a rapprochement deal and a past sticking point — Turkey did succeed in convincing Israel to allow Turkish humanitarian aid through its Ashdod port to Gaza, the completion of a much-needed hospital in the Palestinian enclave, as well as the construction of a new power station and a desalination plant for drinking water.
Hamas has said it was not involved in Turkey’s decision to restore ties with Israel but claimed it was “proud” of Turkey’s official position on the Palestinian issue, according to the Turkish Daily Sabah.
The Jerusalem Post also agrees that the winner of this agreement is Hamas:
Hamas and Turkey come out as the winners in the upcoming deal if reports in the Israeli media are correct.
Israel apparently has agreed to the presence of Hamas in Turkey as long as it does not involve itself directly in terrorist attacks against Israel, but limits itself to political and other supposedly nonviolent activity.
However, the sanction of the presence and “political” activity of Hamas in a country with diplomatic ties with Israel undermines years of Israeli public relations against the terrorist group, which sought to identify Hamas with other Sunni groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State.
Would Israel or any other Western country allow the leader of a friendly state with which it has diplomatic relations meet with Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and allow the organization to operate within its territory? Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, told The Jerusalem Post the upcoming deal is “a win for the status quo as nothing really changes.”
Besides Hamas not being able to carry out military activity from Turkish soil, everything else stays the same: Hamas maintains its Turkish headquarters; Turkey continues assisting Hamas-ruled Gaza; and Israel facilitates this.
Israel does gain the removal and blockage of lawsuits against its soldiers in return for a multi-million dollar settlement for families of Turks killed or injured on the Mavi Marmara flotilla, but other than that “it is a victory for Erdogan.”
When the EU decided to ban Hezbollah’s military wing but not its political one in 2013, Israeli supporters criticized it for not going far enough.
Netanyahu said at the time that he hoped the decision would lead to real steps in Europe against the group, and stated that, in Israel’s view, Hezbollah was one indivisible organization.
Hence, allowing Hamas to continue to function anywhere undermines Israel’s security.
The concluding paragraphs of the JPost analysis are depressing and foreboding:
Schanzer pointed out that from Israel’s perspective, the government would like to have normalized ties with Muslim countries in general.
“But there is no way to have true normalized relations with Erdogan’s government. It is virtually impossible to imagine, given that Turkey remains an Islamist-ruled state with close ties to Hamas and other anti-Israel organizations.”
Perhaps the deal can be best described as an agreement “to stop publicly fighting, while quietly continuing to disagree on virtually everything.”
So what was the point? Was this all done purely to be able to sell our natural gas? Where is our sense of national pride? Not to mention the security risks? Netanyahu owes us all a detailed explanation, backed up by proper evidence, not just “pieces of paper”.