Turkey expels Israeli Ambassador, worsens ties

Today at noon, in response to the publication of the Palmer Report (UN inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident),  Turkey has announced it is worsening its’ diplomatic relations with Israel and a series of steps regarding that worsening. Turkey has completely disregarded the findings of the report, a report which completely contradicts all of their claims towards Israel, the blockade on Gaza and its’ operation to intercept the flotilla.

Before I elaborate on the Turkish response, here are the reports’ main findings (who favor Israel’s narrative):

  • “Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, ii)
  • “Although people are entitled to express their political views, the flotilla acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade [..] there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH. The actions of the flotilla needlessly carried the potential for escalation.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, iv)
  • “The incident and its outcomes were not intended by either Turkey or Israel.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, v)
  • “Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, vii)
  • “Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, vii)
  • “Attempts to breach a lawfully imposed naval blockade place the vessel and those on board at risk.” (Summary, How to Avoid Similar Incidents in the Future, General, viii)

Many claims of Turkey are refuted as well throughout the report, such as the claim that Israeli soldiers fired from a helicopter towards the activists. The report finds that Israeli soldiers only opened fire once they were attacked and did so to protect their lives. Also, the report finds that three soldiers were in fact kidnapped by activists, and NOT as Turkey tried to portray it “for medical care”.

The Turkish response to the these findings and to Israel’s refusal to apologize for the incident completely, includes the following:
  • An expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from Turkey
  • Pulling all high-level officials from its’ embassy in Israel by Wednesday
  • The end to all military cooperation and purchases of military equipment from Israel
  • Taking actions to protect free travelling in the Mediterranean sea
  • Offering legal assistance to the families of the activists in suing Israeli officials and soldiers
  • Taking the matter of the blockade on Gaza to the Hague
Before I personally respond to any of these, please take a moment to read about the hypocrisy of the Turkish government and how it chooses to battle Israel’s actions while strengthening ties and allies with dictators in the region.
Israeli officials noted after the Turkish FM press conference:

  1. The Turkish ambassador concluded his term a few days ago. There was no mention of a new ambassador, just the current one has finished his term.
  2. A new military attache for the Israeli Embassy has begun his work in the embassy two weeks ago and is staying in Turkey.
  3. Israel has already froze all military deals with Turkey, in fear that its’ weapons would fall into the hands of other entities, such as Iran who supplies Hamas, Hezbollah and others with weapons.
Moreover it should be noted that there are already numerous legal lawsuit against Israel’s cabinet members, including in Turkey and the Justice Department in Israel is working with several countries and inquires to defend these claims. This is another case of singling out Israel and trying to fault it for having a predetermined majority against it, who rarely has any interest in the facts or the truth.
Turkey, as aforesaid, demanded Israel will lift its’ blockade of Gaza, monetarily compensate the families of victims who died in the clash with Israeli soldiers during the flotilla raid and make a complete and full apology about the incident. While Israel is making a public remorse over the [unintended] loss of life and was willing to set up a fund to compensate the families (according to some reports), Turkey demanded harsher actions – in fact, it did not seek negotiation with Israel to better relations, but a humiliation display in which Turkey will be announced the bigger heroic winner and Israel the complete loser.
Turkey’s main objective was to have the Palmer report be shelved completely and never see the light of day, seeing as it crushes almost all of its’ claims. Moreover, it set to even further embrace the terror organization of Hamas – Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, made threats to visit Gaza many times. In fact, his intent was to enter Gaza after the blockade has been removed and be portrayed as some kind of hero. All the while, as I’ve previously mentioned, completely ignoring other atrocities in the region where Israel cannot be faulted, as well as some of its’ own actions.
Turkey has made some very disturbing threats. Sometimes threats or only for the sake of media and public opinion, but their threat to “protect the free travelling” could be a sign that they plan yet another confrontation in an attempt to act illegal and breach the blockade while faulting Israel completely.
No doubt – Israel has said from the first moment that it too made mistakes, that its’ army and navy and intelligence did not prepared for this incident properly. Its’ anticipation for only passive resistance and none violence caught it off guard and threw soldiers into a different situation than the one they prepared for. It is partly because of that, that the incident ended so tragically with nine activists dead. And it is way, Israel shows remorse for the loss of life but is not willing to apologize for defending itself in the first place and stopping an illegal flotilla whose stated mission was to breach the blockade, a blockade imposed on a terror group who violently seized control over territory and is continually accumulating weapons and shoot at civilians populations.
The report itself says:
  • “Israel’s decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, vi)
  • “The loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the take-over of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, viii)
  • “The operation should have reassessed its options when the resistance to the initial boarding attempt became apparent.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, vi, b)
With regard to the demands of apology and compensations, the report indicates it was asked to recommend ways to prevent these kinds of incidents from reoccurring and says:
  • “An appropriate statement of regret should be made by Israel in respect of the incident in light of its consequences.” (Summary, How to Avoid Similar Incidents in the Future, Rapprochement, x)
  • “Israel should offer payment for the benefit of the deceased and injured victims and their families, to be administered by the two governments through a joint trust fund of a sufficient amount to be decided by them.” (Summary, How to Avoid Similar Incidents in the Future, Rapprochement, xi)
  • “Turkey and Israel should resume full diplomatic relations.” (Summary, How to Avoid Similar Incidents in the Future, Rapprochement, xii)
Meaning, in light of the outcome, Israel should regret the loss of life and it has, but not to the point of completely faulting itself as Turkey demands. Also, the compensations it recommends should be paid jointly by both governments. It recommends these in order for Israel and Turkey to amend their relations, but does not find any legal necessity for it.
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