Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Mavi Marmara (Gaza Flotilla) Update

October 21, 2010

A Mavi Marmara Update

Today’s Haaretz has reported that information found on computers which were confiscated during the Mavi Marmara raid “indicates that the flotilla’s organizers received assistance from the highest levels of the Turkish government, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Edogan and other senior government officials.” This claim was denied by Turkish officials but nevertheless it is seriously claim, one that will continue to exacerbate the tensions between the once friendly states. Furthermore, the Israelis will need much more hard evidence than found on the Polish journalist’s laptop to prove such accusations. If true, it will confirm many Israelis’ belief that this was all pre-orchestrated by Prime Minister Erdogan himself, and will stand as a sign that the Turkish government extended much more than latent support, something I claimed at the beginning. We need to recognize that even if Turkey “supported” it or not, it was Israel who performed the botched seizure of the ship and did not foresee the tragic outcome, both in terms of human life and the price Israel has had to pay for this diplomatically. Following the publication of the Haaretz article it was reproduced in the Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet.

Since the incident, Israel and Turkey have not come to any understanding concerning the operation and it remains a diplomatic quagmire for Israel, as both Prime Minister Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul constantly remind Israel that they are waiting for an official apology and for compensation to be made to the families of the victims. This caused President Gul to cancel a planned tete-à-tete meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the UN last September. Most recently, Prime Minister Erdogan has threatened that if Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu participates in a Greek climate summit which will take place tomorrow (22 October 2010) he will cancel. However, according to Hurriyet Daily News the “Israeli prime minister is not on the list of speakers, and Israel is not among the list of confirmed participants.” Therefore, this seems to be more of Erdogan’s season bashing of Israel.

While diplomatically things are cold, it seems that trade between the two countries was not affected at all, with past numbers even pointing to increased trade relations. Furthermore, while Israeli tourism to Turkey came to a screeching halt I have once again started hearing Hebrew on Istanbul’s Istiklal street, showing signs that perhaps time really does heal wounds.

To read the Haaretz and Hurriyet article on Israeli claims of Turkish government involvement see here:

Haaretz: Turkey denies offering assistance to Gaza flotilla organizers

Article which appeared in Hurriyet (Turkish)

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