Should Israel Apologize to Turkey?
U.N. flotilla report delayed again so that negotiations can continue
The United Nations’ official probe into last summer’s Gaza flotilla has had its release postponed again, to August 20 and at Israel’s request, in order to buy yet more time for Israel and Turkey to negotiate a diplomatic rapprochement. Early word on the so-called Palmer Report was that it would be surprisingly favorable to Israel: lamenting the loss of life and charging Israel with using excessive force, but not calling for an apology, reaffirming the Gaza blockade’s legality, and placing some of the blame on Turkey. Overall, a pretty big win for Israel, especially when you consider the venue. Meanwhile, Israel and Turkey’s common interests as non-Arab countries in the midst of the Arab Spring—and specifically as two countries that border the basket case known as Syria—was seen to draw them closer, so that the sole hurdle to a nice photo-op between Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Erdogan was finding a way to say sorry in Turkish but not in Hebrew (no, really). Yet yesterday, following earlier reports that Israel’s cabinet would vote on whether to apologize in exchange for reconciliation, Netanyahu apparently pulled the plug. “It is unclear whether the delay of the discussion is a result of a progress in talks with Turkey or the consequence of a setback,” reports Haaretz.
It is likewise unclear whether Turkey’s Erdogan is making serious threats or merely posturing when he insists on an apology. If Erdogan holds fast to this demand, he has sticks at his disposal: He could further downgrade diplomatic ties, and he has even made noises about attempting to visit Gaza, which is not a spectacle Israel wants. On the other hand, if Erdogan refuses to play ball, he would be denying himself the carrot of a U.N. report less harsh on Turkey than the current one. The implication of Israel’s request to delay the release of a favorable report, after all, is that Israel would be willing to make that report less favorable in exchange for a deal.
Which is why I must (sigh) agree with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and others and oppose this apology. There is the principled reason: an apology undercuts the blockade and Israel’s soldiers ability to act in self-defense. And there are realpolitik reasons: an apology proves that bullying works, and that Turkey has the power and can dictate the terms of whatever new Turkish-Israeli alliance results. By contrast, the Syria situation as well as the U.N. report reveal that Turkey needs Israel as much as the other way around. “So what should Israel do?” asks Amir Mizroch, former executive editor of The Jerusalem Post. “Fuck’em. Seriously. Apologizing would be a massive, historic capitulation we’ll end up paying for on a much larger scale.” I don’t share his hyperbole, but the sentiment makes sense.
U.N. Report on Gaza Flotilla Delayed Due to Israel Request to Continue Turkish Talks [Haaretz]
Turkish PM Insists Israel Must Apologize If It Wants to Repair Ties [AP/WP]
Apologizing to Turkey Would Undermine Israel’s Interests Twice Over [Contentions]
Earlier: Israel Enjoys Victory With Gaza Flotilla Probe
Have Israel and Turkey Reached Détente?
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.