Israel and Turkey have resumed formal relations after six years. Turkey broke off relations following the Mavi Marmara incident.
After years of anti-Israel vitriol, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suddenly began to make nice last December in the wake of Israel’s proposed natural gas pipeline which would run through Greece, Cyprus and parts of the EU. The deal was announced today after being finalized in Rome through Secretary of State John Kerry.
I have several misgivings about the deal. Turkey wants Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza. Indeed, the Mavi Marmara went to Gaza for the purpose of breaking the blockade which is jointly administered with Egypt. I don’t see that happening. Nor do I see the Turks granting Israel’s request that the soldiers involved in killing 10 Palestinians aboard the Mavi Marmara be immune from prosecution.
But what really worries me is that under the agreement, Turkey will deliver humanitarian aid and “non-military products” to Gaza for infrastructure projects for residential buildings and a hospital. These “non-military” products would presumably include concrete. Hamas is notorious for using this concrete to build underground tunnels used to transport weapons and facilitate Hamas attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Given that Hamas controls Gaza with an iron fist there is no reason to believe that Hamas wouldn’t use the concrete provided by Turkey for this purpose and Turkey knows it.
Erdogan has long claimed that Hamas is a political party, not a terrorist organization. Despite all this, with the promise of shared prosperity through natural gas, the agreement will very likely pass in the Israeli cabinet though Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman plans to oppose it.
The Turkey that Israel had good relations with 20 years ago is no more. I fear this agreement will bring Israel more terror and violence instead of peace and prosperity.