Israel’s enemies often characterize her as warlike, or a ‘bully’. In fact, Israel’s diplomacy is often excessively conciliatory — especially in the Middle East, where attempts at compromise and conciliation are often seen as weakness or surrender, and where the goal of Israel’s enemies is not to solve problems but to create them.
However, the award for the most childish display of belligerence in the region has to go to Turkey. After the publication of the Palmer Report, in which the UN (for once) had the audacity to admit that Israel was actually justified in blockading Gaza and boarding the Mavi Marmara, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador, ended military and trade cooperation and announced that it would support Palestinian statehood in the UN.
All very nice, but the icing on the cake was Turkey’s threat to escort future flotillas to Gaza:
“The eastern Mediterranean Sea is not a region unfamiliar to us,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday in his first public comments on measures that Turkey was taking over Israel’s failure to apologize for killing nine Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship last year.
Turkish forces stationed at naval bases in Aksaz and İskenderun are capable of patrolling regional waters and escorting civilian ships in the Mediterranean, Erdoğan told reporters.
“Certainly, our ships will show up more frequently in these waters. We will see them [there] very frequently,” he said. “So far, Israel has always played the role of a spoiled boy in the face of U.N. resolutions concerning Israel, thinking that it would carry on with this role.”
On Friday Ankara last said it would take action to ensure the safety of maritime navigation in the East Mediterranean as part of measures against Israel that included also the downgrading of diplomatic ties to the second-secretary level. — Hürriet Daily News (Turkey)
Emanuele Ottolenghi has pointed out that Erdoğan ought to read some of the details of the legal case found in the report (which he demanded that the UN produce in the first place):
Because the Palmer Report has recognized an on-going state of war exists between Israel and Hamas; that Israel has a right to self-defense in this context; that the blockade is a legitimate instrument to meet Israel’s security requirements; and that therefore Israel’s blockade is legal; any attempt by Turkish ships to breach the blockade would be an act of aggression. Israel, provided it follows the rules of engagement (prior warning, ascertainment of the vessels’ intentions, non-violent means, proportionality etc.) laid out in the Palmer Report, is entitled to board, capture or otherwise use force to prevent Turkish ships from getting to Gaza.
This is more than childish — it’s extremely dangerous. Does Turkey really want war with Israel?
One of the requirements for a blockade in international law is that it be ‘effective’. You can’t make exceptions and still have a legal blockade. Israel simply can’t afford to have ships carrying tons of arms and ‘volunteers’ or who knows what landing in Gaza. So Israel will enforce the blockade, even if it means using force against a Turkish warship.
Turkey is a member of NATO. Article One of the NATO charter reads as follows:
The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
Turkey’s warlike threats obviously contradict the NATO charter. Since the Islamist AKP’s ascendance to power in 2002, Erdoğan has pushed Turkey away from the West and closer to those dark forces which NATO, from its activation in 2001 as a result of the 9/11 attack on the US, has fought against.
Turkey opposed sanctions on Iran, courted Hamas (which Erdoğan does not consider a terrorist group), and is presently trying to ensure that the replacement for Assad’s terror-supporting regime in Syria will be a Sunni Islamist terror-supporting regime that he controls.
It’s clear that Turkey’s NATO membership and the amount of military hardware it has received as a result was a mistake.