In negotiations since December, the newly formed Turkey-Israel deal refortifies relationship between the two countries.
Formerly hailed as Israel’s greatest Muslim ally, Turkey became Gaza’s greatest national humanitarian advocate in the region after a deadly Israeli Defense Force attack ultimately killed 10 Turkish activists aboard the Flotilla Mari Marmara, part of a ten ship humanitarian mission to Gaza, in May 2010.
The killings hardened a once golden relationship between Turkey and Israel.
Although bi-lateral political relations between the nations were dramatically affected by the incident (both nations removed their ambassadors, slotted to begin reappointment this week), economic trade remained consistent and “more than doubled” during the six-year frost.
The normalization deal shows a significant shift of global affairs since 2010, in which we’ve seen the collapse and destruction of Syria, the rise of the Islamic State, the largest refugee and displacement crisis of our time, increased xenophobia targeting Black and brown bodies, and an unprecedented nuclear deal brokered between the United States and Iran.
Currently, the two nations can no longer afford to be angry at each other, and the perpetual but blurry image of the Palestinians under siege and occupation is rendered invisible again.
After speaking with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the rapprochement with Turkey as providing “immense implications for the Israeli economy.” Secretary Kerry congratulated both parties, and welcomed the deal as a long awaited step the United States has been working towards for years.
In the six-years it has taken for Israel and Turkey to negotiate a financially lucrative agreement, people have forgotten why the Flotillas set sail in the first place.
International activists have been deemed as terrorists who got in the way of a long-cherished relationship between Turkey and Israel, instead of remembered as troublemakers using targeted non-violent direct action to highlight Israel’s illegal siege on Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip, which has since been rendered nearly inhabitable.
Israel needs Turkey, now; Israel has identified an economic niche satisfied by access to Mediterranean gas reserves, via Turkey. With the discovery of more off-shore natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, Israel maintains its relatively new role as gas exporter, eyeing Turkey as a transport nation to many wealthy European nations eager to lessen dependence on Russian natural gas.
Similarly, Turkey has been looking to become a natural gas transit-nation, while also looking to decrease energy dependency on both Russia and Iran for regional independence.
Shares of Turkish and Israeli energy stocks are both on the rise following the deal announced on Monday.
The War on Terror
Turkey continues to battle increased political, economic, and militant turmoil within and near its borders. Tuesday’s bombing and gunfire at Ataturk Airport is the most recent terror attack targeting civilians.
While some speculation links the attacks to the recent deal, this is wholly unlikely, as it presupposes a tremendous amount confidence in the Islamic State’s coordinating tactics and comes with the assumptions that ISIS cares for Arab life, neither of which are true.
With nearly 3 million Syrian refugees, Turkey has taken on more displaced persons from the conflict in Syria than any other nation. ISIS sees Turkey as a clear and natural enemy, which it will continue to target, especially after the nation pledged to assist the United States in its bombing campaign of ISIS targets inside Syria.
Israel also shares a border with Syria, and fears the growing threat of ISIS in the region. Both nations have retreated to each other as old allies during this instability.
Flotilla organizer, author, and founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Jeff Halper has previously identified Israel’s transnational relationships rooted in economic benefit as the “Global Palestine.”
Through this lens, Palestine is generalized as a pawn used by Israel, and a part of the conflict maintenance industry preserved by Israel.
The question of Palestine has become a lucrative resource for the diminishing democracy, as demonstrated in Israel’s settlement with Turkey this week.
In the Mari Marmara, Turkey appropriated the Palestinian struggle in positioning itself as a time-constrained ally.
With the Israel deal, Turkey reinforced Israel’s unparalleled hegemony by reinforcing the Israeli siege on Gaza as a standard operating procedure, and contributed to the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism of which the United Nations and countless nations and INGO’s are guilty of as custodians of conflict management.
UN Secretary General in Gaza
News of the agreement is timely as UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visits the region.
In addressing the press at a site visit to an UNWRA school in the Gaza Strip, the Secretary General reiterated that “…the closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts… It’s a collective punishment for which there must be accountability.”
Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism? Read: The Israeli cycle of collective violence immune to repercussion, save statements such as the one above. Wait until the infrastructure rebuilt since the last Israeli offensive in Gaza (which killed over 2,100 Palestinians in less than two months and destroyed schools, electricity substations, and governmental infrastructure) is reduced to rubble.
For Gaza, there are no international guardians of justice or accountability, although the kind sentiment is well received, Mr. Moon.
What has been lost?
While the agreement between Turkey and Israel fostered an apology for Israel’s actions against the 2010 Flotilla and offered a $20 million humanitarian fund to be distributed to the victims of the tragedy according to strict guidelines (pennies in reparations in comparison to the billions in economic gain the nations have had with each other during the “stalemate”), Turkey will also be allowed to deliver aid to Gaza and start development projects linked to electricity, water, housing, and health.
In a gross overstatement, which highlights the Turkish appropriation of the Palestinian struggle, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim hails the fact that the Israeli siege on Gaza has supposedly been “largely lifted” as a result of their efforts.
However, Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees and asserts that the blockade of the Gaza Strip remains a “top security interest.”
Similarly, Turkey has agreed to pass legislation protecting Israeli soldiers against lawsuits related to the Flotilla killings aboard the Mari Marmara. Currently the victims families have pursued cases in courts in the United States and Turkey, in addition to the International Criminal Court.
Revictimization of Victims
Responses from Palestinians, and Flotilla organizers and survivors have been widely under-reported since the news of the deal has been announced.
This only serves to reiterate the absence of the victims at the negotiating table, and reinforces that the sub-compromises made are for the exclusive benefit of Turkey and Israel.
In Gaza, many Palestinians are “dismayed and angered” at the news, and warn that the “incremental genocide” continues.
While neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority are enthusiastic about the understanding between Israel and Turkey, both have welcomed the deal in their own ways, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ismail Bilgen, son of a victim of the attack of the Mari Marmara highlighted that Israel is “acting like the compensation is an act of benevolence on their part rather than a punishment for their crimes.”
Huwaida Arraf, a American-Palestinian international human rights lawyer, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, and a leader of the first Gaza Flotilla tweeted the conditions of Turkey’s deal with Israel is “unacceptable” according to victims of the attacked vessel.
Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH), co-organizers of the 2010 humanitarian Flotilla also took to Twitter to condemn the deal which abandons Turkey’s previous stance on the Gaza siege.
With the Israel – Turkey deal, there are clearly winners amidst the new spring of reconciled and deep rooted relations. But who are they?
Palestinians in Gaza, whose demise under siege has not changed in the duration of the six-year stalemate regardless of Turkey’s previously “harsh” stance against Israel, return this morning to attempt survival.
Flotilla organizers and victims have equally been abandoned by Turkey’s hollow gesture.
To those who insist that Turkey has suffered the burden of the stalled relationship, asking Palestinians to help themselves, or telling them that they should be grateful for what Turkey has scrapped for them, please know that nothing has changed has for the voiceless and the redundancy of Halper’s “Global Palestine” has not gone unnoticed in Turkey’s fraud.
The global gaze has again shifted to the theater of the triumphant.
Submitted By Sepideah Mohsenian-Rahman