September promises to be an epochal month, as the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday night told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a telephone call that he is determined to go to the United Nations to bid for a full membership at the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly beginning 20 September, asking the Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines.
Palestinian Liberation Organization negotiator Saeb Erekat noted that 125 nations have already recognized the Palestinian state, adding that PA expected a total of 150 countries to support its initiative during the vote at the UN General Assembly.
Nimer Hammad, political adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, told reporters that the PA was prepared to drop its statehood initiative if the US and Israel accepted the Palestinians’ two main demands, a full halt to settlement construction in the West Bank an East Jerusalem and international recognition of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines.
Whatever occurs in the next two weeks, Israeli obduracy has guaranteed that a former Muslin ally will instead be a stalwart advocate for Palestinian rights. In this case, it’s not enough to use the metaphor of shooting oneself in the foot, its more appropriate to state that one as emptied an entire automatic weapon clip into one’s legs.
So, what Muslim state, the first to recognize Israel in 1949, which signed a military alliance in 1996 and a 2000 free trade agreement has broken ranks with Israel?
Why the bad blood?
Simple - on 31 May 2010 nine activists, eight Turkish citizens and a U.S. national, Furkan Dogan, were killed by Israeli IDF Shayetet 13 Naval Special Forces commandos in a raid on the Mavi Marmara, the largest ship in the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla," which was attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip.
The attack occurred, according to the Israeli navy, 75 miles west of Gaza, at Latitude 32.64113 N Longitude 33.56727 E in international waters, well outside Israel’s self-proclaimed 20-mile exclusion zone, where it has blocked ships from entering Gazan waters since December 2008.
While the UN’s Palmer-Uribe UN Report, issued last week, did criticize Israel's "excessive and unreasonable" attack on the Mavi Marmara, it nevertheless declared that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is legitimate, even though the assault occurred well outside Israel’s self-proclaimed blockade zone.
Since then Turkey has demanded an apology, which Tel Aviv has steadfastly refused to give.
On 2 September Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu rejected the findings of the Palmer-Uribe UN report, announcing that “it’s time for Israel to pay a price.”
Accordingly, beginning on 7 September, diplomatic ties will be reduced to the lowest level, all Turkish-Israeli military agreements will be canceled and Turkey will seek legal redress for its citizens killed in the flotilla assault through international legal venues.
Davuto?lu reaffirmed that Turkey does not recognize Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which a UN Human Rights Council official fact-finding mission had also ruled to be illegal.
The Turkish stance has won support from some unexpected quarters. Former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison stated, "Most egregious is the Palmer Report's gratuitous assertion that Israel's naval blockade is 'a legitimate security measure' necessary to prevent the introduction of weapons into Gaza and that Israel's enforcement of the blockade 'complied with the requirements of international law'. This position is automatically biased toward Israel because it presumes that as an occupying power Israel has security needs that trump any security requirements of Gaza's occupied population. It justifies a blockade that in fact violates international law by imposing collective punishment on Gaza's imprisoned 1.6 million people."
Turkey has repeatedly sought an admission of responsibility of regret and restitution for the incident, which the Likud government of Benyamin Netanyahu has consitenty denied to give, stating that Israel acted within its rights of self defense, even though the tragedy occurred more than 50 miles outside Israel’s self-proclaimed blockade zone. Whatever Israel’s justification for its actions, the incontrovertible fact remains that its operation occurred well outside its zone of blockade, in international waters, an inconvenient fact that cannot be PR spun away, and an American citizen died in the process, a fact largely overlooked by the media.
Furkan Dogan was a U.S. citizen, born in Troy, New York, with a residency permit for Turkey and not a Turkish national. One can only speculate about the State Department response if Muslim extremists had killed a U.S. citizen in that volatile part of the world.
If nothing else, the imbroglio puts Israel’s and Lebanon’s and Cyprus’ hopes of exploiting eastern Mediterranean offshore energy fields on hold, as few will invest in such contested regions.
The Old Testament, Hosea, Chapter 8 states, “Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind”
Along with the gusts of the Arab Spring sweeping the region, Netanyahu’s government had better be battening down its hatches for the self-induced squalls ahead. The tragedy for the region is that some of the tempest could have been avoided, but then, sorry does seem to be the hardest word in the Biblical land of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
By. John C.K. Daly of OilPrice.com