Ankara must decide Who would have thought - Turkey and Armenia agreeing to normalize political relations. Armenia's president planning to attend a football match in Turkey. And George Papandreou, the new Greek prime minister, making Turkey the destination of his first trip abroad.
Strategic blow to IsraelFor time being, Turkey is no longer a dependable strategic ally of Israel Part 1 of analysis The Israel Air Force’s capabilities will not be significantly undermined. Turkey is not the only region where the IAF can hold drills simulating various combat scenarios: Long-range missions, operations in unknown territory, and cooperation with foreign forces. Nonetheless, the decision to cancel Israel’s participation in NATO’s aerial drill in Turkey must serve as a glowing warning sign in respect to the strategic and economic implications that may follow our growing diplomatic isolation. The Muslim Turkey was for many years a formidable and reliable ally of Israel. At this time, however, our strategic relations with it appear to be at a freefall. The deterioration started after the failure of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s effort to mediate between former Prime Minister Olmert and Syrian President Assad; it turned into a tsunami during and in the wake of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. The anger felt by Erdogan, the devout Muslim, towards Israel, and the tailwind he has been getting from the Turkish street prompted him to force his desires on the secular security establishment, whose heads are apparently still interested in ties with Israel. As a result, the openly visible as well as the more surreptitious security cooperation between the two states is increasingly being eroded. New deals worth tens and hundreds of millions of dollars offered by Israel’s defense industries to the Turkish army, as well as cooperation with Turkish colleagues, are being put on hold or are cancelled altogether. Only recently, officials in Ankara preferred to purchase a spy satellite from Italy, even though it is inferior in quality and more expensive than the Israeli product offered to Turkey. However, the cancellation of Israel’s participation in the aerial drill is a truly negative shift, even though we are dealing with a demonstrative propaganda move meant to appease domestic public opinion; the decision does not undermine Israel’s security directly or immediately. However, Turkey (which is interested in gaining acceptance into the European Union) would not have dared adopt such move in defiance of Washington and its European allies had its government not reached the conclusion that the benefit it can expect among regional states by shunning Israel is greater than the potential damage. In order not to sabotage whatever is still left of the relationship, officials in Jerusalem prefer to maintain a low profile and refrain from a significant response. However, we must recognize the fact that Ankara, for the time being at least, is no longer a dependable strategic and security partner for Israel. This fact already constitutes a substantial blow to our national security because it erodes our deterrent power vis-à-vis Iran and Syria. Anyone who looks at the regional map can easily understand this. Israel has indeed embarked on a process of seeking substitutes to the strategic advantages offered by the relationship with Turkey. However, this process is difficult and complex, and it is doubtful whether it will compensate us for the lost ties with Ankara.
Disengaging from IsraelWhile reconciling with past enemies, Turkey increasingly shunning Israel BERLIN – The historic reconciliation agreement signed Saturday between Turkey and Armenia constitutes further testament to the positive changes undergone by Turkey in recent year. A government with an Islamic orientation was able to impressively promote two highly sensitive issues for Turkish public opinion: Recognizing the cultural rights of the Kurdish minority and normalizing ties with Armenia. The strong sense of Turkish nationalism previously prevented any compromise with the Kurds, for fear this will open the door for boosting their national demands and in turn for a renewed territorial disintegration by Turkey. Tayyip Erdogan’s administration realized that it is precisely openness towards the Kurdish minority that will prompt a greater sense of belonging among them and weaken their aspiration to join other Kurdish areas, mostly in Iraq.Erdogan faced a similar choice vis-à-vis Armenia: Perpetuating the frozen status-quo in the ties with Turkey’s neighbor would have boosted the global Armenian campaign for recognition of the massacre committed by the Turks as an organized and methodical genocide. Turkey would have been faced with all the possible implications of such recognition, especially if it would have also been backed by the US Congress.Erdogan decided to preempt this blow, and while taking advantage of the weak Armenian economy (which suffered gravely as result of the closure of its borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan) managed to secure (with Swiss mediation) a reconciliation agreement that is difficult for both for the Turks and for the Armenians – yet postpones to an unknown future date the question of addressing the Armenian holocaust and entrusts future research on its scope in the hands of historians.
Deliberate disengagement policyErdogan managed to also improve the tense relations with Syria, in large part thanks to Damascus’ increasing isolation on the international stage ahead of Barack Obama’s elections victory. We should also make note of the tightening relationship with Tehran, after a long period of adherence to the position adopted by the West, which made sure to minimize its contacts with the Iranian regime. The regional emphasis in Turkey’s foreign policy stems not only from tactical diplomatic and political considerations, but also from a broad strategic vision that wishes to position Turkey as a central and influential force, thereby improving its status in the slow and ongoing talks on joining the European Union. On the one hand, the Turks meet European demands, yet on the other hand they signal that they have options for other regional alliances. It is difficult to ignore the fact that precisely at a time when Turkey reaches out to its past enemies, the Turkish administration is adopting an increasingly hostile policy vis-à-vis its former great ally – Israel. This is clearly not another momentary emotional outburst in the face of Palestinian suffering in Gaza, but rather, a deliberate disengagement policy, which is also meant to undermine the status of the Turkish army – the greatest rival of the Erdogan administration. Is Erdogan seeking to utilize the growing anti-Israeli sentiments and anti-Semitic feelings on the Turkish street, which is also being incited by radical religious elements closely affiliated with his regime, in order to create deterrence vis-à-vis nationalistic and secular forces fearing a religious takeover? This will not be the first time where a Middle Eastern regime is exploiting Israel hatred in order to reinforce its domestic status and advance other issues. Such Turkey should not have a place in the European Union. If Israel’s security and existence are indeed important to the Europeans, they need to make this position clear to their Turkish interlocutors.
Israel fears facing US-aligned terrorist army Few of our readers will be surprised to learn that the very same Palestinian forces being trained, armed and funded by the US government often participate in or facilitate terrorist attacks on Israelis during times of strife. In this way, Israel has been facing US-aligned terrorist forces for years already. But many in Israel fear that problem is set to become exponentially worse in the near future. In an investigative report, the Jerusalem branch of the Center for Near East Policy Research noted that Congress has long tried to limit the amount and quality of military aid given to the Palestinians, aware that the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority is only nominally a peace partner and that it seeks reconciliation with the Hamas terrorist organization. But US President Barack Obama is increasingly obsessed with forging a Middle East peace deal, and his answer to Israeli security concerns has thus far focused on upping American development of a PA fighting force. Obama and many in his administration have also signaled that while they may not like Hamas all that much, they are willing to accept the terror group as legitimate players on the regional stage. When the PA finally reconciles with Hamas, which still holds a majority in the Palestinian parliament, Washington will only utter vague reservations. But when Hamas and other terror groups under its umbrella start attacking Israel and Israel responds militarily, the White House is expected to react with outrage that forces it trained and paid for are caught in the crossfire. Even worse, if there is another large-scale eruption of Palestinian violence including Fatah forces, then Israel will have to fight directly against the US-trained Palestinian troops. "Let's say that Israel wants to go after terrorists – there will be a sort of American veto, because the terrorists are affiliated with the Americans," NEPR Jerusalem chief David Bedein told Israel National News. "This has extremely serious implications."
Arab rioters attack Jewish motorists near Jerusalem Dozens of stone throwing Palestinian Arabs attacked Jewish motorists along a major highway south of Jerusalem on Monday, damaging several vehicles but miraculously causing no injuries. Among the vehicles attacked along Highway 60, which connects Jerusalem to the Judean towns of Hebron and Gush Eztion, was an Israeli ambulance. Most of the Israeli media and all of the international press ignored the attacks.
Past Failures a 'Reality Check' on Peace Deal
After four failed experiences with Israeli-Palestinian peace-making Israelis will not be easily swayed by more unfulfilled promises, Israeli government minister Benny Begin said on Tuesday.
Begin is the son of Israel's sixth Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who signed Israel's first peace treaty with an Arab nation - Egypt - in 1979. As part of the agreement, Israel uprooted settlements and gave up the Sinai Desert to Egypt.
Coming 'Down to Earth'
Addressing foreign journalists in Jerusalem, Begin, who is a geologist by profession, quipped that he feels it is his role in peace-making to bring his fellow Israelis "down to earth."
Israel is under pressure from Washington to re-start peace negotiations with the Palestinians toward a final status agreement, which would include Israel giving up the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, known as the West Bank to enable the creation of a Palestinian state.
But Begin said it is not accurate to draw parallels between the peace agreement his father made with Egypt and the current process with the Palestinians.
"We have to really look at reality and draw the right conclusions," Begin said. "Egypt is not the PLO . Sinai is not Judea and Samaria."
Fatah's Real Goals?
Begin read article 19 of the Fatah charter, which was reaffirmed in August by a Fatah convention in Bethlehem.
"The armed revolution of the Palestinian people is a crucial element in the battle for liberation and for the elimination of the Zionist presence. The struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated," it says.
Begin said this is tied to another resolution, which says there will be no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in order to protect the rights of Palestinians on the other side of the green line, i.e. Israeli Arabs.
"Now tie this together, it all says actually, the PLO plan is not a two-state solution, but a two-staged solution," Begin said. Stage one would include establishing a state in the West Bank and stage two would mean that the pressure on Israel would continue, he said.
No Peace by Piece?
The Palestinians were also asked during various negotiations that if an agreement were reached would they agree to end all claims and the Palestinians said, "no," he said.
"We are now following four experiments and all four failed," Begin said.
One was the Oslo agreement, signed in 1994 on the White House lawn. Israel traded some territory for peace and got terror instead. Then there were the negotiations in Camp David in 2000, which failed and were followed by years of violence; the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005; and the Annapolis conference in 2007, which went nowhere, he said.
"Territory for peace in the last 16 years became actually the business of territory for terror. And Israelis know it. They recognize it. They internalized it and I don't think they can be easily swayed anymore by these easy deals with promises that are not ," he said.
The only way Begin sees a peace deal with the Palestinians at this point is if they fundamentally change their attitude, he said.
IDF Releases Video of Hizbullah Arms Smuggling Battery of Katyusha rockets in S. Lebanon Video http://wejew.com/media/6432/This_is_What_Exploded_in_Lebanon/ IsraelNN.com) The IDF on Tuesday released video footage of Hizbullah terrorists smuggling missiles and other weaponry out of a warehouse where an explosion occurred Monday in the southern Lebanese town of Tayir Filsay. Lebanese Army soldiers and troops from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) raced to the scene, but terrorists had emptied the warehouse by the time they arrived - a secret activity caught on camera by IDF military intelligence. Israeli President Shimon Peres observed Tuesday that the terrorist organization has turned Lebanon, formerly known as the "Switzerland of the Middle East," into a "powder keg." Speaking at the annual Galilee Forum held Tuesday at Kfar Blum in the north of the country, Peres said Hizbullah is as dangerous to Lebanon as Hamas is to the Palestinian Authority. Hizbullah holds a significant minority faction in the Lebanese government, including several pivotal posts in the cabinet. Numerous media reports have claimed that at least five Hizbullah terrorists were killed in Monday's explosion at the three-story facility located at the home of terrorist Abdel Nasser Issa, near the coastal city of Tyre. IDF military intelligence has estimated that the group currently possesses some 50,000 missiles, smuggled into the country through the Syrian border - more than twice the number it had before the start of the 2006 Second Lebanon War. A spokesman for the Israeli government pointed out that the incident offers further proof that Hizbullah continues to violate the terms of the U.N. ceasefire resolution that ended the five-week war. The UNIFIL commander at the time said when the agreement was inked that there would be no way to enforce the resolution, which called for Hizbullah and all other "foreign armies" to disarm.
|Published:||10.14.09, 00:26 / Israel Opinion|