Israel Will Send Humanitarian Relief Aid to Turkey
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday said that Israel could respond to the call for international relief effort sent by Turkey in the wake of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake which caused about 400 people to die and more than 1,000 to be wounded in the province of Van in the eastern part of Turkey.
The minister said that his country could send to Turkey hundreds of prefabricated houses by sea after preparing to send a few by air. Avigdor Lieberman was careful to mention that this help his country is ready to provide has no bearing on the relations between two countries, that have been practically severed after an incident in 2010, when 9 Turkish nationals were killed by the IDF navy as they boarded a Turkish-flagged vessel attempting to breach the blockade on Gaza Strip.
Israeli defense ministry director-general Ehud Shani said that when a country is in distress it is good to put personal disputes aside for a minute and help, if possible.
A plane carrying six or seven prefabricated houses is ready to depart on Wednesday evening for Turkey, and another one will depart on Thursday. The defense ministry said that ship was equipped to set sail with hundreds of houses, if necessary.
Turkey initially refused the help from the Israelis, but then it had a turnaround, which the Israeli officials are not optimistic enough to call it a sign of thaw in the mutual relations.
Lieberman decried the decay of the mutual relations, which used to be so good with the Turks, and expressed his hope that the changing of the regional political map would bring the two countries back together.
Referring to the fact that the Turkish anger toward the Bashar regime in Syria has pitted Turkey against two of Israel’s arch-foes, Syria and Iran, he said that he was not talking about warming the relations, but merely about identifying common interests.
Turkey downgraded its diplomatic relations with Israel after a report that was presented at the UN about the incident in 2010. In the report, drafted by former NZ prime minister Geoffrey Palmer, it was said that Israel was within the legal right to impose a blockade on Gaza and that the IDF troops were defending their lives in a legitimate manner as they met violent resistance on board Mavi Marmara.
Turkey said on that occasion that the Palmer report had no right to assess the legitimacy of the Gaza blockade. It had demanded on several occasions a formal apology from Israel, the compensation to be paid to the families of the deceased, and the lift of the blockade on Gaza.
Israel refused to apologize, offered to pay compensation and to express compassion for the loss of lives. Lieberman said on that occasion that Israel could not humiliate itself and recognize by an apology that the Turks were right. Ehud Barak, the defense minister, on the other hand, apologized personally for the attack on Mavi Marmara on the Israeli radio.
The main reason for the refuse was said to have been the preoccupation that the IDF soldiers may not be prosecuted by the families of the dead in the international courts. On the other hand, Israel offered an apology last week to the Egyptians for an incident in which eight of their soldiers were killed.
Turkey seems to be one of the countries that benefits from the Arab Spring as its position becomes more dominant in the newly re-designed political landscape of the Middle East.
The Turkish Prime Minister announced, while visiting the Arab League headquarters, that his country was at the heart of the Arab world, though the Turks are not Arabs. While visiting Egypt, he proposed the Arab most populous country an axis that would have as ends Ankara and Cairo.
Turkey toured the Middle East and north Africa and offered the countries that have just come out of the dictatorial regimes the model of Turkish democracy, an moderate Islamic vision of society, which combines democracy with Islam.
Anti-Israeli rhetoric was the key to this success of the Turkish foreign policy, which also became a steady supporter of the Palestinian bid for statehood. Even so, most of the Israeli officials believe that sooner of later the Turkish leaders would better their relation with Israel.11