Plan B for Israel: From losing a friend to gaining an opponent
HDN | 7/25/2011 12:00:00 AM |
We have learned from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that the government has a B plan in case Israel would not provide an apology for the killing of Turkish citizens during last year’s attack on the Gaza bound flotilla.
We have learned from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that the government has a B plan in case Israel would not provide an apology for the killing of Turkish citizens during last year’s attack on the Gaza bound flotilla. The only detail we know so far is that the plan includes further freezing of relations.
The meaning of the existence of the plan and the objective of such a plan carries more importance at this stage than the details of the measures.
First of all, working on a plan B, in the absence of an apology, means Turkey is not willing to have the present situation with Israel to continue like that. Time is not going to heal the wounds between the two countries. Time will not make Turkey step down from its position, and Turkey is not going to play for time, in the expectation that “in time” Israel will come to the point of apology.
So, if some in the Israeli cabinet believe that by avoiding an apology the worse outcome will be the continuation of the current state of affairs, and – despite its disadvantages – it is a bearable cost; well Turkey is saying: “This is not the case.” With plan B, Turkey is saying that avoiding an apology will have a cost for Israel.
Hosting the yearly meeting of the Palestinian ambassadors in Turkey as well as Erdoğan’s intention to go to Gaza through Egypt are part of plan B.
At this stage, let’s recall the prime minister’s statement the day after the flotilla incident took place: “Turkey is not a country without strong roots, nor is it a tribal country. No one can challenge Turkey. No one should test Turkey’s patience. However valuable Turkey’s friendship is that’s how violent its hostility is.”
Plan B should be analyzed in the light of this statement. Implementing plan B would start the transition from losing a friend to gaining an opponent, as far as Israel is concerned.
Officially, Turkey asks compensation in addition to the apology, to normalize ties. The prime minister on the other hand added the condition of lifting the Gaza blockade. An apology and compensation will be enough to normalize ties despite the prime minister’s additional condition. The reason why he has come up with a third condition is part of the plan B. In the absence of an apology, the government is going to use every means to put the Gaza blockade under international spotlight. In addition it will use its entire means to mobilize international support for the Palestinians that are seeking recognition in the U.N. this autumn. The Foreign Ministry’s statement yesterday strongly condemning Israeli settlements is an early warning of what is ahead.
I am sure all these will not be taken as friendly acts by Israel.
It will be wrong at this stage to speculate about what other measures Turkey will take against Israel, yet it will not be wrong to imagine that the prime minister will certainly be encouraged by some of his cabinet members, as well as representatives of its core constituency, to take more radical measures.
The fact that Mavi Marmara, the ship on which the deadly attack took place, did not leave Turkey this year should have been taken by Israel as Turkish government’s intention to normalize ties with Israel. Despite this gesture, avoiding an apology is seen as testing the patience of Turkey.
For Israel the stakes are no longer about losing a valuable friend, but it is about gaining a new opponent.