An upcoming meeting designed to facilitate Israeli-Turkish reconciliation has been postponed until late April, as worries deepen that backsliding by top Turkish officials may delay or even scuttle rapprochement between the two countries.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was maneuvered last month by U.S. officials into accepting reconciliation terms that he had long rejected as inadequate for restoring long-frozen ties. Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had long insisted that Israel would have to fully apologize for a 2010 incident that saw Israeli commandos intercepting a Turkish vessel trying to break the Jewish state’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip (the commandos were attacked by members of the crew and nine died in the ensuing fighting). Erdogan and Davutoglu also demanded that Israel fully lift its blockade. Instead Erdogan accepted a partial Israeli apology for “operational errors” and to measures that stopped short of Israel lifting its embargo. In exchange, Turkey committed to restoring relations and to halting legal proceedings against Israelis involved in the interception.
Analysts worry that Erdogan’s failure to secure his long-standing demands of Israel will force the prime minister to overcompensate in order to save face, even as Turkey is failing to live up to its own commitments. Davutoglu declared yesterday that Turkey was going back to insisting on Israel fully lifting the Gaza blockade – a position that Israel-Turkey experts have described as a non-starter on account of Iranian weapons smuggling – and an announcement made yesterday indicates that prosecutions against the Israelis will proceed.
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