JERUSALEM (JTA) — The United Nations deferred the release of its findings on Israel’s deadly seizure of a Gaza-bound Turkish ship to give Jerusalem and Ankara more time to mend fences.
An inquiry set up by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had been due to publish a report on the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident Wednesday, but Israeli officials said the release was moved to Aug. 20.
The report has been postponed repeatedly while Israel and Turkey, both of which have delegates on the U.N. panel under former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, pursue bilateral reconciliation talks.
I wouldn’t put it that way, folks.
The report has been delayed because it would cut the ground out from under the absurd Turkish position, which is that Israel needs to ‘apologize’ for several of its soldiers defending themselves in the only way possible, from beaten and stabbed to death.
The report is said to conclude that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal, and that the Turkish state had direct involvement in the flotilla and the militant IHH that provided the thugs who attacked the boarding party, as I wrote at the time. It also reportedly says “the IDF acted ‘too soon’ and with excess force,” but after all — this is the UN we are talking about.
If this is correct, then the report shows that the Mavi Marmara incident did not ‘just happen’. While it could perhaps have been prevented by better intelligence and planning on the Israeli side, it was clearly designed by the Turkish leadership to further widen the breach between Israel and Turkey which was initiated by Turkish PM Erdoğan when he walked off the stage at Davos in January 2009, after accusing Israel of murder:
Erdoğan has threatened to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel even further if Israel does not meet his demands:
In a speech to a conference of foreign ambassadors to the Palestinian territories in Istanbul, Erdogan condemned the continuing blockade of Gaza as “illegal and inhuman,” and said the Palestinians’ troubles were Turkey’s troubles, and would not go neglected.
Erdoğan opened his speech by naming each of the men killed in the raid on the Mavi Marmara ferry, which led the activists’ flotilla. “We have not forgotten, nor will we forget, the self-sacrifice of our brothers, their memories and the massacre they were subjected to,” he said.
Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel after the incident in May 2010, suspended military cooperation, and closed its airspace to Israeli military aircraft. It wants Israel to apologize for the killings, pay compensation to the families, and end the embargo of Gaza. — Jerusalem Post
Since Erdoğan’s AKP has been in power in Turkey, he has systematically stripped power from secular and military elements who were responsible for relatively good relations with Israel. With the AKP victory in recent elections, he’s moved Turkey even farther from the West and closer to Iran. There is no reason to think that relations will improve in the foreseeable future, and any gesture on Israel’s part will only be interpreted as an admission of guilt or a sign of weakness.
Israel’s Attorney General supposedly advised PM Netanyahu to apologize in order to prevent the filing of lawsuits against IDF soldiers. In other words, Israel should plead guilty for a crime it did not commit because otherwise it might have to defend its soldiers against equally false accusations. Anyway, who’s to say that there won’t be lawsuits in any event, especially if there is an official admission of guilt to serve as grounds for them?
One of the main thrusts of the propaganda war against Israel has been to delegitimize any use of force in self-defense. This was the theme after the 2006 Lebanon war as well as Operation Cast Lead in 2009-10. This is more than just an attempt to damage Israel by making it harder for her to protect herself. It is intended to humiliate and criminalize the state itself.
Note also that Erdoğan demands an end to the blockade of Gaza. The Mavi Marmara incident already was used by the Obama Administration to force Israel to loosen the blockade, which was originally intended as a way of pressuring Hamas economically. The objective now is only to prevent massive amounts of weapons from reaching Hamas.
The Turkish regime has rejected compromises, such as an ‘expression of regret’. This is just as well, since anything Israel agrees to will be spun as an admission of guilt. The best thing that can happen at this point is that negotiations on this issue will end with no result. There is no possible upside for Israel.