September 6th, 2011
12:09 PM ET

The end of Turkey-Israel relations

Editor's Note: Steven A. Cook is the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square, to be published this fall.

By Steven A. Cook,

Last Friday, the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, announced what had long been coming - the end of Turkey-Israel relations.  Although it is not a total breach, Israel’s ambassador in Ankara is no longer welcome there and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) mission in Turkey was terminated.  All official business will now be conducted at the level of second secretary, which in the military is equivalent to a major or Lieutenant Colonel.  The foreign minister also warned that the Turkish Navy would defend the freedom of navigation in the international waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, conjuring images of a naval confrontation between the Israelis and the Turks.

As Davutoglu explained to the gathered press, Israel had not met Turkey’s demands for an apology from Jerusalem for the notorious Mavi Marmara incident of May 2010.  The Turks had also demanded compensation for the killed and injured as well as a lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.  Needless to say, after 15 months of on-again, off-again negotiations, the Turks and Israelis could not come to a mutually acceptable formula for averting the collapse of their bilateral relations.

The Turks had long let it be known what the consequences would be if Israel refused Ankara’s demands, making Davutoglu’s announcement less surprising than shocking (mostly in tone), but there was something else behind Ankara’s ire.  Indeed, the announcement came after the New York Times published a leaked version of the UN’s Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident(aka, the Palmer Report), which vindicated many aspects, but by no means all, of Israel’s account of the incident and the legal issues surrounding it.

The Turks and many others have already contested the underlying logic of the Report, the central issue of which is the legitimacy of Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.  Sir Geoffrey Palmer and his colleagues concluded that 1) although Gaza is not a state, Israel and Gaza are in an international conflict; as a result 2) the Israelis’ claim that they have a right to self-defense in this situation is entirely legitimate, and 3) the naval blockade is an acceptable means to achieve that end.  In order to reach these conclusions, Palmer et al affirmed Israel’s position that the naval blockade is fundamentally separate policy from the land cordon the Israelis established around Gaza since 2007.

Not being a lawyer, I may not be on firm ground here, but it seems pretty clear that Palmer’s report is correct that, while the conflict between Israel and Gaza may not meet the legal criteria for “international conflict,” politically there is no question that we are looking at what is, for all intents and purposes, an international conflict.  (A conclusion, which although not legal, should nevertheless be important for advocates of Palestinian statehood.)

At the same time, Palmer’s conclusion that the naval blockade is a separate policy seems to be a bit shaky.  It is based on the fact that this blockade was not established until January 3, 2009 more than a year after the imposition of the land closure.  Yet, there is something that is too cute by a half about this reasoning.  It is important to remember that the naval blockade also occurred during the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead, which was intended to bring a halt to rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel.  A laudable goal, but it also suggests that Palmer may be wrong in suggesting the “separateness” of the naval blockade.  After all, that blockade was imposed as part of a military operation that was intended to do what the land closure was apparently failing to do. Under these circumstances, it seems that the naval blockade was an extension of or addition to an existing Israeli policy of preventing weapons, the raw materials for weapons along with a host of other goods that have nothing whatsoever to do with weapons, from being smuggled into Gaza.

The Palmer Report is thus not as clear-cut as either the Israelis who are declaring victory would suggest or the hopelessly politicized exercise that the Turks are claiming.  The ironies here are almost too much to take, but what is done is done and the report, with whatever its faults, is a devastating blow to the Turkish narrative of the legal and political issues surrounding the incident (see pages 38-48, in particular).  It has especially harsh words for the organizers of the flotilla and questions their intentions to actually deliver humanitarian aid. This is a political problem for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the reason why the Turks went on the offensive this week.

After all, wasn’t it a confident (righteous, even) Ankara that demanded a UN commission of inquiry in the belief that it would reinforce the Turkish narrative?  Didn’t the Mavi Marmara incident and the events surrounding it help further Erdogan’s legend in the Arab world?  Hasn’t Erdogan been minting political gold on the Palestinian issue?  The answer to all of these questions is yes.  The fact that the Palmer Report suggests that Israel may have screwed up the interception of the flotilla, used unnecessary force, and abused some of the passengers and crew is politically unsatisfying because the UN’s inquiry also states that the Israelis were within their legal rights to establish a naval blockade and enforce it.

I don’t expect the vast majority of Turks to go out and read the Palmer Report and that it will have an immediate impact on a prime minister who was just re-elected with 49.95 percent of the vote.  The strong stance on Israel will also play well for Turks and Arabs.  Still, a United Nations report that is so at variance with the core of Ankara’s narrative about the flotilla incident is a problem for Erdogan and his government.  At best they look weak and at worst, they look quite frankly, like bumblers so caught up in their hubris that they did not consider the possibility that the UN-sanctioned panel could find fault with Turkey’s legal reasoning or actions.  Caught off guard by the leak to the New York Times, there was a domestic political imperative to mitigate the sting of Palmer’s conclusion.  Davutoglu’s press conference and his tough words were calculated to make as big a kerfuffle as possible precisely because the Palmer report does not conform to Turkey’s version of the events.

Does anyone think that the Turks would have responded the way they have if the report had confirmed what Ankara has been saying about the flotilla incident over the last 15 months?  Likely not.  Under those circumstances, it is likely that the Israelis would have been forced to be more forthcoming with Erdogan on Turkey’s demands.  No way is that going to happen now.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Steven A. Cook.

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Topics: Israel • Turkey

soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Kurd

    Hopefully this will be the case until at least the Turks grant us the very independence we deserve. We haven't had a homeland now for over 2000 years since the Sarmatians drove us from what is now Ukraine!

    September 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Reply
    • Naz

      Turkey will not give freedoms to any minorities. What you are saying is exactly what Armenians were hoping for 100-150 years ago. Even though we were living in the same land since Noah's time, we had to beg to have equal rights as the Turks. They answered to our pleas with swords. We were tricked then, and now you are being tricked if you think Turkey cares about the Kurds. Turkey is for Turks only. The only hope for the Kurdish polulation is to find allies outside of Turkey.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Reply
      • Onesmallvoice

        Unfortunately Naz, you're quite correct. Then again, the Turks have always been barbarious throughout history. In fact, the First Crusade was call in 1095 by Pope Urban ll due to the very atrocities perpetrated by the Turks againt the Christians in the Middle East after they seized territory from the Romans after 1057 as they expanded westward.

        September 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Onesmallvoice

      I completely agree with you, Kurd. You do deserve a homeland like Israel. The only difference here being that the Israelis already have their homeland and now it's turn for you Kurds to acquire one as well.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Reply
      • LNP

        The Kurds should get their homeland in Iraq – Since the US is ruling Iraq they should help them to get thsi

        September 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
      • Travis

        Thank you, LNP. I totally agree but the reason the U.S. is not helping the Kurds is because Iraqi Kurdistan has almost half of Iraq's oil so the U.S. and it's allies wish to keep Iraq united even at the expense of the Kurds!

        September 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
      • turkmeneli

        kurds are communist people. they always worked with russians. kurdish terrorists have been using communist russian weapons for almost 40 years. their main ideology depends on communism. north iraq is a safety heaven for kurdish terrorists and communists.

        Kurdish terrorists have been killing Turkish babies for 40 years. kurdish terrorists killed 30 000 Turkish people (mostly babies and women)

        kurds are as same as cuba,venezuella,china,vietnam people. they hate usa and american people. kurds always carry heavy russian weapons in the north iraq.

        north iraq is most dangerous place in the world. there are only terrorists,killers and rappers in the north iraq.

        barzani (most dangerous dictator in the world) is rulling the north iraq. he wants to create a country like cuba,vietnam,venezuella,russia.

        today, there are 3 million Turks+ 2 million kurds in the north iraq. however kurds are rulling the whole state. kurds are killing Turkish babies in every single days. kurds moved Turks from kirkuk to another cities. kurds also want to get grounds from Turkey.

        finally, someone must say thats enough to this terrorist kurdish people. there are so many enough reasons for war. Turkey should invade the north iraq.

        long live Turkmeneli,long live Turkey, long live great Turkish nation

        September 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
      • jj ashton

        The U.S. and its allies should continue to support Israel. In my view the Arab world always demand, but never give. If the Arab world doesn’t want people involve in their affairs than they should stop attacks on other territories by radicals attacking from their territories.

        November 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Turan

      There is not a nation such as kurd. They are mountain Turks. they live in the mountains and they speak Turkish. They cant speak any other language without Turkish. Their native language is Turkish. there is not a language such as kurdish.
      north side of iraq belongs to Turkey. there are 3 million Turks live in the north side of iraq.
      long live great Turkish nation, long live great Turkey

      September 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Reply
      • jantjer

        free kurdistan! free cyprus! free costantinopel!

        let the barbarians go back to mongolia were they belong!

        September 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  2. acsacar

    ISRAEL do not owe any apology to the turks, since the ones in the flotilla were terrorists.

    September 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      I think Israel would have to give in. It has more to lose by falling out with Turkey, which is an emerging economy and has a finger in every pie in the region. The U.S. is concerned, as both Israel and Turkey are their allies. It will mediate so the two can reconcile.

      September 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    • LNP

      It is this Isreali frame of mind that earns them enemies. And this reflects negatively on the rest of the worlds perception of the US as well – a situation reminescent of the Kaiser's blank cheque to Austria-Hungary.

      September 7, 2011 at 11:52 am | Reply
      • Scott

        . "The first and feromost result is that Israel is going to be devoid of Turkey's friendship."Which way would Cameron and Sarkozy have NATO jump?

        February 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Manda

      Here you go again. Israel is a such a saint, huh?

      September 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  3. a serious man

    Yeah, your job is to spin it as hard as you can but it's obvious to everyone that the reaction is a response to the killing of 9 civilians in international waters, by commandos who raided the ship at night and summarily executed them. So "the report embarrassed them" argument is simply not true, and it's obvious that neither the punishment of Gazans with the blockade is legal nor that the report has any kind of credibility with Uribe among the team. Funny how you completely ignored to mention that guy in your article.

    September 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      You may refer to yourself any way you want but in order to be taken seriously you should use FACTS AND LOGIC. The FACT is that according to international law it is PERFECTLY LEGAL to stop, inspect and even SINK a vessel delivering supplies to the enemy during a war. If the people on Mavis Marmara did not attack Israeli soldiers no one would be harmed. The LOGIC tells us that attacking a commando soldier performing his duties is not a good idea and may be harmful or even deadly.

      September 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Reply
      • J. Gillis

        The only reason that the Israeli regime is blockading Gaza is because it was unhappy that the Palestinians chose to elect Hamas during their internationally recognized democratic elections, not because their is a state of war. The Palestinians are victims suffering under the Israeli regimes illegal occupation and have been so since the Israeli regime started the 1967 war by attacking Egypt. While true that they are exercising their legitimate right to resist the illegal occupation, their resistance is far from a war. The Israeli regime is just mad because it failed in its attempt to overthrow Hamas and is collectively punishing millions of innocent civilians in Gaza simply because Zionists are the Nazis of our time.

        September 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
      • Manda

        J. Gills said it well. "Zionists are the Nazis of our time.". There is no excuse for the blockade, causing immense suffering to the civilians. And that they expect the civilians to like them. What hypocrites these Zionists are.

        September 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • zionist

      How come the Muslims run to the UN with complaints as petty as Israel stole there goats, yet when A report goes against them they condemn the UN. Turkey is lost to Islam and Israel has no need to apolgize for there soldiers defending thwmselves. The leadership of Turkey are in bed with Iran. They are bride and bridegroom.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:52 am | Reply
      • Manda

        Oh, now it is "Muslims", not the Turks. That just shows how biased you are you Zionist pig.

        September 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
      • da Bond

        Manda I have read all your dumb comments and don't really know why you should call someone a pig.well it takes one to know one pig!

        September 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  4. J. Gillis

    It is about time someone stood tall against the Israeli regime and took a stand against its immoral blockade of Gaza and the illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank. It has been embarrassing to watch the US State Department kowtowing to Netanyahu's radical right-wing extremist coalition and quite sickening to see our congress licking his boots to get their AIPAC payouts, so it is refreshing to witness some real leadership for a change.

    It is too bad the USA does not have leaders with cojones like Prime Minister Erdogan, our nation would be far better off if we did.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      If and when the Palestinians of Gaza wanted the blockade removed they would stop their attempts to murder Israelis and tried to convince them that it is safe to remove the blockade. As long as the Palestinians are doing exactly the opposite it means that they're happy with the blockade and are willing it to continue. Further, it is perfectly MORAL to defend yourself, your family and your country during a war. It is even MORAL to kill as many enemy fighters as necessary to convince the enemy to ask for peace. Palestinians of Gaza are very lucky that the Israelis are doing everything possible to save Palestinian lives by closing their borders to terrorists instead of killing them and their supporters.

      September 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Reply
      • J. Gillis

        The Israeli regime is the one who has illegally occupied and oppressed the native Palestinians for over 4 decades because they wanted Palestinian water resources for themselves, so don't even try to paint the Zionists as victims. The Zionists came to Palestine with the intent of stealing the land from the indigenous population while claiming some sky daddy gave those who converted to their religion the right to do so, so spare me your tears. The native Palestinian people are the only ones who had the right to defend themselves, not the invading whites European Zionists who set their greedy eyes upon the land of Palestine.

        The Israeli regime needs to be forced to abide by UNSCR 242 and withdraw from land it occupied In 1967 and take its illegal settlers with it. PERIOD

        September 6, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • zionist

      How many Kurds did Turkey murder last week? Great leadership. I would rather see a man like Netanahyu. If people like you do not like him I know he is on the right track.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:56 am | Reply
      • LNP

        I do not see any difference in Turkey killing Kurds and Israel killing palestinians including children. So what is the difference between Netanyahu and Erdogan?

        September 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
      • Manda

        You support the killing of Palestinians children (via blockade of supplies to Gaza) and yet show sympathy toward the kurds? Yeah, Hitler too was capable of loving (whoever that he loved.)

        September 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • zionist

      How scary the international court of Justice. Kind of like going to clown college.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:58 am | Reply
    • tada123

      how the hek are palestinians native if they are arabs,who are native only to saudi arabia.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Reply
      • uhhh...

        Well, the term Arab now-a-days is thrown around. Egyptians are "arab" but Egypt has been around for 7,000 years+. Arabs are basically anyone who speaks Arabic and is from an area that is sorta close to the Arabian peninsula. in ancient times they weren't called arabs they had other names. The whole middle east and the rhetoric surrounding it has been muddled in the west (in some cases intentionally) for years now. After all, what you don't know/are confused by/don't understand is scary. So when you attack it, you don't realize that humans are dying.

        Also, the ME is screwed (I include Israelis and Turks, actually if you look at them Israelis Turks and Arabs have more in common with each other than either of them has with America). They keep doing stupid things and screwing themselves over. We should just ween ourselves off oil and get out of there before we get dragged into a world war. Of course if Israel attacks Turkey we'd either have to go to war to defend Turkey (Nato) or give Nato the middle finger and watch it fall apart. We really should just listen to George Washington. Very smart guy.

        September 11, 2011 at 1:50 am |
      • Manda

        It has been a long time that the term Arabs didn't refer to an ethnicity but to Arabic speaking people. Duh!

        September 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  5. Azo

    Israel is its own worst enemy. All they had to say Im sorry and none of this would have happened. As if they didnt have enough enemies already, theyre now trying to make their friends into enemies as well. Mubarak is gone and Jordan's unelected ruler could go anytime soon, yet Israel puts its arrogance and pride before its own interests

    September 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      Israel has no reason to apologize for its PERFECTLY LEGAL actions. Israel already said that it was sorry for the lives lost adn expressed its condolences to the families of the dead and wounded as well as to the people and the government of Turkey. This is as far as it could go without accepting the blame for the incident that was a sole result of the provocation known as the "Gaza flotilla".

      September 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Reply
      • J. Gillis

        As a belligerent occupier, it is not only illegal to impose collective punishment, but it is also highly immoral to prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid to millions of civilians living in the open air Gaza concentration camp.

        I am glad to see that Turkey is taking the matter to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, more of Israel's crimes need to be adjudicated there.

        September 6, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • zionist

      There is nothing to say they are sorry about. The ships were told to stay out. You put up a turkish flag up and take Israeli soldiers hostage and start knifing at them and using pipes you get killed. I am not sure how far the nut job in turkey is going to take this but he may be itching for war. If turkey goes into Israei water Israel will sink there ship. You want to keep testing you will get the same result.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:08 am | Reply
      • LNP

        The israeli soldiers would never had any trouble if they had boarded the ship. Your posts are expectedly biased. I feel sorry for you.

        September 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
      • Manda

        Typical Zionist, good at spreading lies, saying "There is nothing to say they are sorry about. The ships were told to stay out. You put up a Turkish flag up and take Israeli soldiers hostage and start knifing at them and using pipes you get killed. I am not sure how far the nut job in turkey is going to take this but he may be itching for war. If turkey goes into Israel water, Israel will sink there ship. You want to keep testing you will get the same result.".

        September 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Jim

      Yeah...see...if the King of Jordan is overthrown, that means the Palestinians are the dominant ethnic group in Jordan. That means Jordan becomes Palestine. That means there's a Palestinian state that can absorb the Palestinians. That means there's no more reason to claim any of the land Israel acquired in 1967. So if that king goes, all Palestinian National Movements will become null and void.

      For that reason, no sane person involved in Palestinian Nationalism wants even an Israeli ally such as King Abdullah to go. It'd destroy the Palestinian National movement.

      Of course, once a state is independent in the west bank, it will turn its attention to overthrowing Jordan, since Israel can't annex the territory legally, but an East Palestine can.

      September 10, 2011 at 2:20 am | Reply
      • Manda

        Not so fast. The zionist's' day dream will never happen. Never. Jordan is for Jordanians and Palestinian people need to get their land back. European Zionists can live in Palestine with the permission of the Palestinians as Ba; Four Declaration alotted.

        September 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  6. Mavi Gozler

    Turkey should NOW demand that first and foremost, a re-normalization of relations can ONLY occur when the right-wing extremist government in Israel–led by once what was a terrorist named Bunyamin Netanyahu-is no longer in charge of that government. Both Netanyahu and the fascist who holds the portfolio for the ministry of foreign affairs can not be any part of the government of Israel, irrespective of any formal apology and any offer to pay damages for what is really a criminal act against international law, which is the killing of individuals on the high seas who were trying to defend against the boarding of their vessel against what is rightly considered MURDERING PIRATES.

    The people of Israel must now understand that their government is in the hands of megalomaniacs who feel themselves above all others, and who commit atrocious and indecent acts with the absolute inability to understand the difference between right and wrong. And Israel supposedly being a democratic state, it is the voting plurality–at the very least–of Israeli people who gave these ANIMALS the power of the state who must take responsibility for the PARIAH that Israel has become in this matter of attacking those on a humanitarian mission. It is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS that Israel behaves in this way, and that it has become the MONSTER that it accuses others of being.

    Were I sitting in Ankara now, I would absolutely insist that Turkey will not re-normalize its status with Israel until its present government is no more. The next steps would be an apology written to Turkey and its dead and wounded and delivered in a venue of the United Nations, followed by a generous offer to compensate survivors or other show a greater act of contrition.

    Of course, it would be the greatest justice if those who issued the command to attack and board the vessel were themselves punished appropriately–especially with long-term prison sentences–but that will likely have to await a time and place where humanity only attains a state of perfection.

    September 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      You may try to ignore it but Israeli actions were PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE. According to the international law IT IS LEGAL for a country to stop, inspect and even SINK a vessel delivering supplies to the enemy during a war.

      September 6, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Reply
      • J. Gillis

        The Israeli regime imposed the blockade in response to the Palestinians holding democratic elections and elected Hamas who also survived the Israeli regime's attempted coup d'état, not because there was a state of war. The Palestinians have exercised their right to resist against the Israeli regimes illegal use of collective punishment, but who wound not do the same in their place?

        September 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
      • Thinker23

        J. Gillis: I wonder if you REALLY believe in your words above. If you do then I feel sorry for you but I can not help you. If, however, you DO NOT believe in your words below then you belong to the category of people who do not believe in their own words. I do not talk to such individuals.

        September 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
      • Noz

        Israel is the NUMBER ONE violator of Geneva Convention regulations....they use illegal weaponry, make illegal on civilians, and are the biggest whiners of the Middle East. They have made an industry out of their suffering (as if no one elses is legitimate and Jewish lives are most important). They are racist beyond belief. Everyone is tired of their antics and their bs.

        September 6, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
      • MJ

        Thinker, it is useless to debate with a person who insists on referring to Israel as the Israel regime. Noz, get over it, Israel is a country and will defend itself until the end of the world., which it has every right to do, including a naval blockade.

        September 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
      • LNP

        Who is the enemy? A Palestinian child? I think Israel is its worst enemy – you would need to blockade Israel.

        September 7, 2011 at 11:58 am |
      • tada123

        LNP hamas intentionally launches rockets/fights in densely populated areas,so more people will get hurt and then the PA could condemn israel. and israel has the most UN sanctions because 60% of the countries in the security council are countries like libya.

        September 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • zionist

      These animals and Israel? You call them animals. I see all the muslim leaders the last few months doing massacres on there citizens. Yet in Israel the Muslim population has the Highest per capita family income and level of education of any Arab groups in the middle east. The people live under a democracy. They do not give there 8 year daughters over to be a child bride. If you represent the type of Islamic person that Israel deal with, you need rough handling.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:04 am | Reply
      • Manda

        Isn't true that it used to be that the Rabbis stared their prayers thanking that they're not women? Of course, most of you zionist pigs are atheists but the point being, your hatred for the Muslims is well noted, pig.

        September 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • jantjer

      The turkish president is
      a warmonger and a madman treatening and opressing his neighbours. Just like most islamic leaders. Kadaffi. Saddam Hussein. ETCETERA

      FREE cyprus. FREE kurdistan. FREE armenians. you disgust me and God willing all turks will be bombed by israeli nuclear bombs/.

      September 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Israel shouldn't normalize relations with Turkey until it gets rid of the Erdogan government, which before the Flotilla incident or even the blockade has publicly tried to humiliate moderate Israeli governments (and is a key reason Likud has won, mind you). Also, they should not normalize relations until Turkey acknowledges the Armenian genocide, because everyone in Israel knows the hypocritical policy will hurt Israeli relations with the Armenians, and there's no more need to appease Turkey on that issue.

      September 10, 2011 at 2:23 am | Reply
  7. SAS

    This is a very encouraging move. Finally the Turks, who were long dismissed as the lackey of the United States and Israel are developing a backbone and standing up to Israel's atrocious behaviour.

    September 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Reply
    • Manda

      Yup, I am proud for the Turks to stand up.

      September 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  8. Noz

    I'm Armenian and I have to say that this is the BEST single thing Turkey has done to date....

    Screw Israel...they are the open sore of the Middle Eastern region and are THE BIGGEST problem in the region. Not to mention their cancerous tentacles in other parts of the world too with their AIPAC lobby and direct plants in the US government and elsewhere (the entire freaking FED for crying out loud...doesn't anyone notice?????)....screwing over the American people who are too oblivious to realize.

    Wake up folks. As much as I can't stand Turkish policy, the Israelis are worse.

    September 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Reply
    • jantjer

      i am a truk.

      and i am ashamed of my crazy fellow turks.

      Why are we idiots?

      September 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Reply
      • Jim

        I am a Jew and an American. I have plenty of Turkish friends and I can say you're not all idiots at all. Most people who elected Erdy did it because of low inflation, not because he's a great leader. Most people will do so without an economic crisis. However, the truth is, the Turkish-Israeli relationship has been built on immoral actions, too-specifically, a country founded off the back of the holocaust in Europe and then had to absorb over a million Jews from Muslim lands after 1947 (40% of Israel is Sephardi from non-European countries) has to acknowledge all genocides when they've occurred. To appease Turkey, they haven't acknowledged that, and when Turkey says Israel thinks their friendship is cheap, they don't realize that Israel sold its soul because it valued Turkey's friendship that much, and because Jews and Turks historically have had good relations and they wanted to maintain it.

        Turkish relations with the outside world right now are based on major hypocrisies; that Israel can't occupy but they can (Cyprus); that Israel can't have a population exchange, but they can (Greece, Cyprus); that Israel can't bomb people but they can (Eastern Turkey, Iraq). Currently Turkey is very isolated outside of Arab regimes, who are afraid of a Turkish Empire and only tolerating Turkish actions due to the fact that they hurt Israel-they do not want Turkish domination again, not because Turks are bad people, but because (like all nations on the planet) they like themselves more.

        Erdogan doesn't understand this, and subsequently, his Zero Problems policy has turned into "Well, at least the Azeris don't completely hate us yet..." policy.

        September 10, 2011 at 2:29 am |

    This is a direct challenge and threat to Israeli sovereignty, Israel owes Turkey no apology.

    September 6, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  10. kar

    The question shouldn't be whether Israel was morally, legally, or otherwise justified in setting up a blockade and using excessive force (the author's critique isn't extremely convincing, and he skirts the latter argument completely). It should be a question of what is in Israel's best interests.
    The best way to answer this is to weigh costs and benefits. To me, the cost is hubris, politics, and a little money. The benefit is saving diplomatic relations with one of its few friends in the region. There'd also be much less chance of Israel completely isolating itself from its neighbors in the Middle East. It apologized in Egypt, and staved off a diplomatic quandary with its ally. However, Egypt will only drift away from Israel over time. Its population resents the relationship Mubarak founded with Israel, and their views will increasingly be voiced in Egyptian foreign policy. Watching Israel's current approach to international relations is depressing; its politicians are its own worst enemy.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Reply
    • Thinker23

      The answers to your questions are pretty simple. The Arabs in general and the Palestinian Arabs in particular started several wars against Israel with a goal of destroying the Jewish state and they've lost them all. Israel can not afford to lose a war, therefore the Arabs will continue losing for as long as the war will continue. The war will continue for as long as the Arabs are willing it to continue proving that they're happy with its results. It is morally, legally and militarily justified to blockade enemy territory during a war and the case of Gaza is no exception. The alternative to blockade would be destruction of Gaza similar to destruction of Germany at the end of WWII. Finally, something is considered "excessive" in case when the stated goal could be achieved by less. As long as the Palestinian terrorism continues the amount of force will be INADEQUATE and not "excessive" meaning that MORE force is needed to convince the Palestinians to stop violence and ask for peace.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:57 am | Reply
      • kar

        1. What war? I don't recall hearing about troops of any sort marching on Israel for the past 40 years, give or take some. I don't think a few terrorists running around is equivalent to a declaration of war. Otherwise, the U.S. would be at war with every country in the Middle East, Turkey with Iraq, Spain with itself, and so on.
        2. You completely misunderstood my question. My question is: is it a sane choice of policy to ensure that every one of your neighbors hate you, or is it better to use diplomacy to ensure you're surrounded by allies? To give you another few examples of countries that cannot afford to lose a war: Singapore, Liechtenstein, South Sudan, the Vatican City, and so on. The difference between them and Israel is that they attempt to befriend their neighbors so they can both benefit from feeling safe and trading with nearby countries. I'm not saying the majority of Arabs aren't prejudiced against Israel, I'm saying that Israel is doing nothing to make them think otherwise.

        September 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
      • Manda

        You have the nerve to compare Gaza to the Third Reich? Israel is the one equivalent o the Third Reich (Nazi Germany)

        September 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Jim

      Is it in Israel's interest to pacify a leader who has referred to them as killers, murderers, butchers, and said that Jews are good with money, before this incident?

      Apologizing to the current Turkish government is worthless. By and large, even MHP understands this, though they consider a paranoid-crazy state. MHP wants tough sanctions on Israel, but they for the most part blame the mess on AKP, and they understand that Israel can not have good relations with Turkey so long as AKP is in power. I mean, the Israelis are trying to hold their position and not condemn Turkey's reaction in the last week-not easy to do. Turkey? We're going to strip search Israelis (and when we hear about them doing it after we do that, we're going to say it reveals their character, even if its the same policy as the last 50 years of the state). We're going to make sure Cyprus can't export energy to Israel. We're going to make sure that we name our militarization of the seas after Operation Barbarossa (Kad ad1 barbaros). So yeah, we're a state that celebrates genocide, because Jews are evil and no one remembers the Armenian genocide anyway cause we say it didn't happen.

      How exactly is Israel apologizing to this government in its interest?

      Beyond that, a condition for normalizations isn't just apology but lifting the blockade. Turkey is trying to set Israeli policy on an issue that doesn't effect Turkey. Israel can't agree to that in the framework of an apology, so since that's a demand, it isn't happening at all.

      If Turkey sends a boat into Israeli waters that isn't invited, international law is clear. The Israelis can sink it, and the Turks can't do a damned thing. Since that's very clear, odds are the Israelis would board it, capture it, and send it back to Turkey in exchange for an apology, which it won't get, and Turkey will claim Israeli piracy, which won't be too convincing.

      September 10, 2011 at 2:34 am | Reply
    • Manda

      May be this is how the end of Israel is beginning. Israeli terrorists (in suits an din office) are so arrogant that they can't even see that they are losing a good ally, Turkey.

      September 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  11. Richard

    Well done Turkey

    Erdogan rightly said that Israel is like a 'spoiled brat'

    Turkey saved the lives of jews numerous times during the past and look at how they got rewarded by Israel.
    This israeli has done numerous, a lot too many mistakes and all the problems in the middle east, all these dictators that are now falling were put in place to safeguard the 'safety' of israel. The problem is that the israelis were looking in the short term and not the long term which should be the vision of a state.

    The palestinian must be given a state, and israel must accept international law once and for all.

    Turkey is a fast growing economy and has a great countryside, they need not beg for israeli friendship, a lot whole of countries in europe and asia are investing in turkey and the economy will be one of the best hopefully in the next few years !!

    September 8, 2011 at 6:44 am | Reply
    • RJ

      Turkey is overplaying their hand in the Region. Could you imagine if Israel sent a floatzilla to the Kurds? Turkey would surely blow up or stop the floatzilla and continue its oppression of the Kurds. This is the same country that committed one of the worst genocides in history. Why don't they apologize to Armenia? The hypocrisy of Turkey is stunning and its only a matter of time before they kicked out of NATO for their double dealing ways. The US as always will stand by Israel and Turkey should have no illusions of where American loyalty lies.

      September 8, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    • Jim

      Well done, AKP. You say Israel is acting like a spoiled brat, and that they've never done anything for you, but you're a key reason that Israel has committed that horrific sin of not openly declaring the genocide in Armenia. Israel sold its soul to appease you, to not condemn your invasion and occupation of Cyprus-justified or not-and has given you weapons to fight Kurds in your country, and you repay Israel by cutting off ties for an issue you have nothing to do with. Bravo.

      Israel has saved thousands of Turkish lives and soiled its own reputation, and AKP awards them for this with a knife in the back. Who trusts Turkey to help them? Syria? No. Egypt? No. Libya? Hell no. Georgia? No...Azerbaijan? You're next to receive Turkish "help!"

      September 10, 2011 at 2:37 am | Reply
  12. Hagi Sakir

    It is true that the commandos were defending themselves but what I would like to know is how those people died on board. Some of these victims had many shots on their bodies from close range with evidence that they were already injured before getting the fatal below. Israel released videos showing the resistance of the people on board. Why are they not releasing videos showing how the victims were shot?

    September 8, 2011 at 11:10 am | Reply
    • jantjer

      Why isnt turkey releasing bodies of killed kurdish civilians?

      they are hidding their crimes.

      turks are criminals. torturers and opressers.

      Turks have NO right to question anybody else on this world because they are criminals themself

      September 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  13. Dee

    Interesting fact: Israel, being surrounded by enemy states, found an easy vacation escape to Turkey: Short distance, cheap flights, great seaside resorts. Without anyone in Israel saying one word, tourism from Israel to Turkey simply stopped immediately after the blockade incident. And believe it or not, there is quite an impact to the Turkish tourism industry because of that. Israelis have found other places to vacation, even if it is not as convenient. Oh well!

    September 12, 2011 at 11:14 am | Reply
    • Maxe

      For the sake of carlity, in my post below I meant Iran's "principled stand" being complementary to the Palestinian stand.

      February 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  14. Peter Dahu

    Of course this article ignores the report done by the UN Human Rights Commission that says the blockade is illegal. Apparently that report was ignored by mainstream media because it didn't tout the pro-Israeli line.

    September 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  15. Ohad

    The Armenians are waiting for an apology from Turkey. When is that going to happen? Turkey is using the flotilla matter as an excuse for its fear of an uprising there. Once again using Jews – Israelis as scapegoats. This is not Turkey's finest hour.

    September 26, 2011 at 10:49 am | Reply
  16. Ali

    It's bnyeod my intellectual ability to understand how the mind of someone like Mr. Rae actually works. I mean this man was a Rhodes Scholar!

    February 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Reply
  17. Eddie Fonseca

    Turkey is country that has strong Muslim and part Christianity population and they are not really an Arab country, because they were taken over by the Greeks, and some parts of the Middle East about over five hundred years ago but they are most open minded country when it comes to having diplomatic relation's with other countries and Israel as well. Turkey and Israel will always have a different of words when it comes to solving international problems between the two countries, and sometimes Israel is not always willing to listen to different ideas when it comes solving problems from terrorists to other things it has to be Israel way or nothing atall which is not a bad idea some of the time. Being an American who has traveled to both Turkey and Israel, I head from the young people of those two countries that Israel and Turkish government have conflicting and confusing viewpoint's on how to solve international problems between the two places while sitting in a small café and sipping some coffee and watching a local soccer game on the television. One thing that we as American's can agree on that Israel and Turkey should find a peaceful solution to listening to each other viewpoints, instead of ending their diplomatic relationship between the two countries which does not help anyone and end's up being our problem for our great nation. Without Turkey and Israel recalling their diplomatist's to the negotiating table, will America have to be the diplomatic bridge for peace between Turkey and Israel for years to come.

    May 17, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Reply

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