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Shifting Alliances: Turkey Vs. Israel – OpEd

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By Roy Tov

For a long while, things were static in Israel; the Warring Family got richer by the day while all others slaved.

Many years ago, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir created an odd doctrine that can be summarized as “Let’s Wait;” unable to speak since 2002 due to Alzheimer’s, he has become its living testimony. With the fatal exception of Yitzhak Rabin, all Israeli prime ministers since Shamir have tried hard to keep the political situation frozen, or even move it backward. Nowadays, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is often attacked in the Hebrew media for his passivity.

Of course, even the Warring Family knew this could be only a temporary approach. Predicting which straw would break the camel’s back would have been hard even at the time the event developed, but as time goes by it becomes clearer the Israeli brutal attack on Gaza in 2009 was it. It defined Israel as a “terror inflicting” organization (see article 1690 of the UN report) and it led to the disastrous Gaza Freedom Flotilla, an apparently secondary event at the time, which is rapidly turning into a strategic one. The UN report analyzing it hit Israel twice: The first time when it confirmed Israel had committed serious crimes during the event; then, when its forgiving tone brought serious protests from Turkey and the Palestinians. Israel’s main ally in the area — Turkey — has since begun a strategic shift in its alliances. Things are not only changing rapidly for Israel, they are doing so in tandem. The slow deterioration in Israel’s relations with Egypt is becoming more violent by the day, while the same is true for Israel’s relations with Turkey. As of now, Turkey and Egypt have no ambassadors in Tel Aviv, and Israel has recalled its ambassadors from their capitals as well. What’s next?

Turkey and Israel do not share a border; violence like that witnessed these days along the Israeli-Egyptian border won’t be seen in this case. However, a sea war for hegemony on the Eastern Mediterranean may begin soon. Smallish scuffles related to the recently found gas fields near the disputed Israeli-Lebanese maritime border may take place with the participation of the mighty Turkish fleet. This is not just speculation; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that Turkey will boost navy patrols in Mediterranean. In an immediate response, Israeli Energy Minister Uzi Landau said Israel will secure its rigs and further develop the gas fields. Keeping the pressure on this issue, Turkey has repeatedly complained about the energy deals between Israel and Greek Cyprus. (Turkey doesn’t recognize the Greek government on southern Cyprus.) Then, in an interview given last week to Al Jazeera that was later published by Turkey’s state news agency Anatolia, Erdogan said with regard to Gaza’s Freedom Flotilla: “The attack that took place in international waters did not comply with any international law. In fact, it was cause for war. However, befitting Turkey’s greatness, we decided to act with patience.” This declaration is unprecedented; until now Turkey had been very careful to show a conciliatory tone in its formal declarations over the incident. It had never used the term cause for war while talking about its former close Zionist ally. Then he added a clear warning: “Right now, without a doubt, the primary duty of Turkish Navy ships is to protect its own ships. This is the first step. And we have humanitarian aid that we want to carry there (to Gaza, RT). This humanitarian aid will not be attacked any more, as was the case with Mavi Marmara.” In other words, he issued a military warning to Israel.

The shift in the Middle Eastern alliances is now being completed. Yesterday – Sept.12, 2011 — the Turkish prime Minister arrived at Egypt and met its new military rulers. The day before, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had issued a neutral statement regarding the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and had added a clarifying statement on the new attitude of his country toward Israel: “We say that we will continue to bring on to the agenda Israel’s incorrect attitudes in all global platforms in the framework of international law and after this Israel will become even more isolated.” Only hinted at now, it seems Turkey and Egypt are creating a new anti-Israeli alliance.

Turkey and Egypt and Hezbollah and Gaza may bring a new sunrise to that troubled part of the world. By the end of that day, Netanyahu and Obama — holding hands — will sail into the sunset; for the first time in their peoples’ history unable to burn everything behind them.

Roy Tov is an Israeli dissident who converted to Christianity. Having had a career at Israel’s highest scientific institution and having served in top-secret military units provided Tov with unique insights. This made Tov a marked man when he tried to leave Israel. An attack by Israel left him a with permanent damage in his throat.

Arab News

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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