Let’s talk Turkey

Readers who may have read my articles and blog posts in the past may note that I have rarely — possibly never — complimented Mr. Netanyahu on…well,  anything.

The Decisionator

As our country wallows deeper into the quagmire of settlement in occupied territory, as we wonder how the gap between rich and poor grew so fast and so wide in the past years; as we vaguely recount how the area of Hebron and it’s southern hills have become the wild-west, gun-slinging anything-is-legal dark place that it is, and as a consequence reel back at the horrific consequences of no rule of law coming back at us in the form of gruesome roadside killings by Palestinians; as we see the onslaught by government-supported advocacy groups falsely besmirching Jewish Zionist free thinking leftist groups who merely criticize government and policy, we wonder whether the “decisionator” actually understands that he is leading us into the abyss


Sound decision making

However, from time to time (rarely, I must say) some sound decision -making comes along that also demonstrates that there is a logical, thinking, rational person in Balfour Street. Several notable examples in the application of such logic, cool headedness and wisdom have emerged in the last several years. Most noteworthy is today’s news that Israel and Turkey have resolved their five-year dispute. It began with the absurd debacle by then Deputy Foreign minister Danny Ayalon humiliating Turkish envoy Ahmet Oğuz Çelikkol,  later culminating in the raid on the Mavi Marmara which ended in shame and dead bodies. Of course all this was fueled in the latter years by hysterical utterings by Erdogan.

With the kind of jingoistic, ultra-nationalist fever affecting Israel at this time, it no doubt took a lot of hard work and skilled negotiation to persist and to untangle the toxic relationship that existed with Turkey these last years. In addition, by leveraging the geopolitical changes that recently and unexpectedly emerged due to the crisis between Turkey and Russia, and Turkey’s precarious relationship with the West over issues of ISIS and refugees, the “seize the moment” opportunities were wisely taken and it appears that we have mended the fence with one of the most powerful and influential Muslim states in the region. Details of the agreement include removing a key Hamas representative from Turkey yet Turkey still insists on Israel ending the siege on Gaza.

Opportunities come and go — fast

It is this very issue of Gaza that remains open, which  presents an opportunity rather than a stumbling block. In the spirit of creative diplomacy now evident, Turkey can broker a long needed “Hudna” between Israel and Hamas which ultimately could curb the destructive influence and incitement by Hamas on West Bank youth manifested currently in the sporadic individual attacks in “loners” intifada, still raging.

Netanyahu and Yaalon have shown level-headedness not only in this recent turn of events but also during “Protective Edge” last year, when hotheads and demagogues in the personae of Liberman, Bennett and others, were insistent on the complete destruction of Hamas in Gaza, something that was neither viable and that would have cost hundreds, if not thousands more lives of soldiers and civilians. The lost opportunity then was of course in the agreements phase to end that round of conflict. A long rigorous cease-fire could have been put in place together with a lifting of the siege. Clearly, as long as Gaza is a pressure cooker at the limit, Hamas’s toxic rhetoric bears growing influence on the entire Palestinian public.

Its not about the gas

The supply of Israeli gas to Turkey as an alternative to that of Russia is of course relevant. But this isn’t about the gas. This is about opportunities.This one could be a game changer. Let us hope that the “decisionator” is on a roll and will be bold.

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.