Turkey Interfering in Israeli Trade Agreements and Security Considerations

The aggressive rhetoric that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu have used regarding Israel over the last two weeks has taken a new form: interfering in Israeli trade agreements as well as security considerations.

In May 2010, Israel stopped a flotilla loaded with humanitarian supplies bound for Gaza for inspection while still in international waters.  All ships complied except for one, the Mavi Marmara, which was full of weapons for Hamas as well as a large band of armed terrorists backed by a Turkish Islamist group.  Israeli Navy commandos were attacked by the Islamist group and responded by opening fire, killing nine people, all Turkish citizens.  One also held American citizenship.  A UN and Israeli inquiry was launched and the UN inquiry issued the foregone conclusion: Israel was at fault.

On September 1 of this year, the complete UN report was released and showed the exact opposite:  Israel was justified for its actions according to international maritime law, which states that a nation may prevent arms from entering its borders.  While report recommended an apology and compensation, Israel has said it will not apologize nor compensate supporters of terrorism.

In the wake of the report, the Turkish government kicked out the Israeli ambassador and most of the consular staff, ended all agreements with Israel and said it would have Israel tried in the Hague for war crimes in addition to sending Turkish warships to Gaza.  The Israelis responded by threatening to arm Armenian and Kurdish separatists as well as raise the issue of the Armenian genocide in the UN.

Recently however, Turkey has interfered in an ongoing agreement between Cyprus and Israel regarding gas and oil drilling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, supporting the Lebanese claim to the Leviathan and Tamar fields that actually lie in Israeli waters and insisting that Israel give the fields to Lebanon.  In addition, Turkey has taken to supporting the Palestinian claim on East Jerusalem and actively interfering in negotiations.  Turkey also claims that the wars in the Middle East are Israel’s fault and has affected Turkish trade opportunities.

The Israeli reaction to Erdogan’s interference in Israeli trade has been muted, although it can be expected that the US and other countries will support Israel.