Yediot report on escalating boycott actions by Turkey (and Italy)
A couple of points to note:
- The headline is a pun — Turkey is known to Israelis as a popular destination for “all-inclusive” holiday packages.
- Someone on the editorial desk inserted a stab at Deputy FM Danny Ayalon by illustrating the report with the infamous humiliation photo of the Turkish Ambassador and labeling it “How it all started.”
Itamar Eichner, Yediot, June 16 2010 [page 7; Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]
Up until now they made do with making vocal protests. Now the time for sanctions has arrived: Turkey is planning on taking severe steps to protest Israel’s failure to apologize for its behavior in the flotilla affair and to pay compensation to the people who were injured and killed on board the Mavi Marmara.
The relationship between Israel and its long-standing friend in the region, which have deteriorated consistently in the past number of months, have now reached a new low point. The Turkish ambassador, who was recalled to Ankara after the flotilla takeover, has not been returned to Israel. According to the current reports, he is not expected to return to Israel any time soon. The Turks are planning on lowering the level of relations so that they only have a “representative” in Israel.
According to reports in Turkey yesterday, the USD 180 million unmanned aerial vehicle deal that was signed with Israel has been cancelled. In keeping with the contract, Israeli teams had been in Turkey to train local teams to use the UAVs. Following flotilla affair, the Israeli teams were called back to Israel, and the Turks claimed that by so doing Israel had violated the contract, rendering it null and void.
Other reports indicate that the Turks are considering prohibiting Israeli ships from docking in Turkish ports, impeding Israeli businesspeople and not to encourage Israeli tourism. Turkish officials are also contemplating filing suits against Israel with the International Court of Justice at The Hague and voting against Israel in various international forums.
“It is clear today that Erdogan only wants to worsen relations with Israel,” said yesterday top Foreign Ministry officials. “Stage by stage he is going to deteriorate them — all the way to severing relations.”
Israeli officials are afraid that Erdogan will search for an excuse to prompt a further deterioration in relations. They said that the Turkish prime minister has been coming under mounting domestic criticism for his actions. In the meantime, that criticism has been quite soft, but Israeli officials have been encouraged by the fact that many Turkish officials have said that they do not understand why Erdogan has downgraded relations, and that criticism might just stem the tide. Opposition figures in Turkey have charged that Erdogan has responded disproportionately and is joining forces with Iran. Other reports indicated that the Americans have sent the Turks very stern messages about their closer relations with the Iranians.
Yesterday, two weeks after having been escorted secretly out of the country, the family members of Israeli diplomats who serve in Istanbul and Ankara were permitted by the Foreign Ministry to return to Turkey. The decision was made following a new situation assessment that was made by the Foreign Ministry. Foreign Ministry officials said that it was very difficult to separate the families and in light of the diminishment of the protests and the angry mood against Israel — a decision was made to restore things to routine.
Italian boycott of Israel
Meanwhile, the boycott against Israel has expanded further and has begun to affect countries that are considered to be its friends. Italian government officials capitulated to Arab pressure and decided not to invite Israel to the conference of Mediterranean countries that is to be held in Milan in July, despite the fact that Israel is a member country of the forum. This decision has deeply angered the Israelis, who are pressuring the Italians to reverse the decision.
Israel’s banishment from the conference, which is to be attended by representatives of 26 countries, including Arab countries, was sponsored by Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Stefania Gabriella Anastasia Craxi. The Arabs said that they would make their participation contingent upon a refusal to invite Israel, and Craxi succumbed to the pressure. When Israeli officials tried to ask her to explain, she became evasive.
Political officials said that this was a particularly odd decision, given the fact that Italy was one of the prime fighters against boycotting Israel.