Israeli Knesset members and anti-Zionist Arabs alike are very displeased with the pending new Israeli-Turkish rapprochement.
Israeli politicians on both sides of the aisle were unhappy with the deal. Former minister Gidon Sa’ar (Likud) tweeted: “Israel will pay Turkey reparations for the Marmara? I hope the news is wrong. If it’s true — this is a national humiliation and an invitation for more flotillas and more libels from Israel haters.”
MK Arel Margalit (Zionist Camp) said that “Netanyahu once again capitulated with his tail between his legs before Hamas, hurt the IDF soldiers without blinking, and abandoned the families of the missing.”
Margalit was referring to Turkey’s failure to convince Hamas to sweeten its Israeli deal with Israel by handing over its biggest bargaining chip, the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. Of course, the Turks promised to try, and they probably did, but anyone who expected Netanyahu to be able to come up with a win on that count is either terribly naïve or just hates Netanyahu.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) tweeted that “there better be a very good reason to justify the deal with Turkey, which on its face appears shameful.”
The two loudest Israeli-Arab voices to spin Netanyahu’s diplomatic success into a failure are MKs Hanin Zoabi and Ahmad Tibi. Both are arguing that the fact that Israel is paying Turkey reparations over the 2010 Mavi Marmara fiasco constitutes admission of guilt and therefore does not end the Israeli public relations headache, it only makes it bigger.
But everyone else in the region, most notably the Turks and the Israelis, appear delighted to put behind them that nasty episode and the bad six years that followed.
After the final disagreements have been smoothed over Sunday, on Monday afternoon Prime Minister Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are expected to announce a reconciliation agreement between their two countries in concurrent press conferences. Netanyahu’s cabinet would then be required to approve the deal, and said cabinet includes Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, a staunch enemy of appeasing Turkey.
Turkish-Israeli relations hit a wall back in 2010 after the IDF special forces who were attempting to take over the Mavi Marmara, part of the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” were met with overwhelming violence from the Arab and Turkish crew, and were forced to kill Turkish citizens onboard. On Sunday, after six years of open hostility between the two countries, which have historically depended on each other economically, high level Israeli and Turkish delegations met in Rome and hammered out the final reconciliation deal.
The political components of the agreement are:
1. Israel will pay Turkey some $20 million, presumably going to the families of the dead crew members.
2. Turkey will not launch lawsuits against the IDF officers and soldiers who took part in the operation.
3. Israel will ease some of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
4. Turkey will limit Hamas activities inside its borders. Turkey will not permit Hamas to conduct, plan or direct any military activity against Israel while in Turkish territory. However, the Hamas offices will stay open and can continue to operate as diplomatic agencies.
The economic aspects of the deal have mainly to do with Turkey, which is now depended on its hostile Russian neighbor for its supply of natural gas, looking to replace it with Israeli gas. However, for the time being, the Israeli gas is still tied up in the Knesset as well as in the Supreme court, so that’s not happening yet.
MK Zoabi, for whom this is her last term in the Knesset, having been kicked off her realistic spot on her Balad party’s list by party primary voters, insists that this is not the time to celebrate the diplomatic achievement of the Netanyahu government, instead, she says, the deal constitutes an Israeli admission of “committing nine murders, injuring dozens, kidnapping and piracy in international waters.”
Zoabi is also irate that the Turkish-Israeli deal does not deposit in Israel’s hands the responsibility for the woes of the Gaza Strip, which it abandoned ten years ago this summer. Zoabi wants the Israeli blockade to come down completely, but has nothing to say about the Hamas openly declared intentions of continuing their plans to attack Israeli civilians.
MK Tibi for his part suggested PA-based jurists should take note of the reparations index of the Turkish deal, for future discussions, when the new Palestinian state would be handing Israel the bill for all the Arabs that died over the years, presumably including those who were killed while trying to carry out terror attacks against Israelis.