Gaza flotilla: Press divided on Turkey-Israel spat
- 5 September 2011
- From the section Europe
Middle Eastern papers are divided about Turkey's decision to expel the Israeli ambassador over Israel's refusal to apologise for last year's raid on a flotilla of activists heading for Gaza, in which nine Turks were killed.
The expulsion came after a UN report on the incident concluded that Israeli commandos had used unreasonable force, but that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza was legal.
Commentators in Arab countries, Iran and Turkey itself praised Ankara's actions, which include challenging the Gaza blockade at the International Court of Justice this week, although some Turkish observers voiced doubts about the wisdom of fighting such a close US ally as Israel.
In Israel's print media, opinion was mixed. Some writers derided Turkey's tough reaction, but many said the Israeli government's stubbornness had deepened the crisis.
MINE SENOCAKLI IN VATAN:
The biggest political crisis of the latest period has erupted. We have given notice to Israel that if they push too hard it will be regarded as a declaration of war. Ankara has written off Israel - by risking everything.
FATIH CEKIRGE IN HURRIYET:
These latest developments and crisis are not only about the issue of apology or indemnities. This is because while regimes in the Middle East are collapsing as a result of the "Arab Spring", Israel demonstrates its power in the Mediterranean. And against this Turkey says: "Hold on a minute, I am here, too!"
OMER TASPINAR IN SABAH:
Yes, Israel has lost Turkey ... But if Israel had apologised, would it have won over Turkey? Would the problems between Israel and Turkey have ended if Israel had apologised? The Israeli government and public answered this question by saying "no".
ALI ASLAN IN ZAMAN:
Tussling with Israel will increase Turkey's prestige among Muslim nations in the region and further force the US to have closer relations with Ankara. However, the Obama administration, which requires Jewish support in the presidential and congressional elections in November 2012, may have to seek a balance between its national interests and political obligations.
ALI AKEL IN YENI SAFAK:
Making Israel pay a price may also have its price. What is important is that the Turkish authorities have responded to the challenge by Israel, which has always managed to get Washington's support.
ALI BULAC IN ZAMAN:
The Israeli government does not think it has committed a mistake or a crime, the dimensions of which would require an apology ... This is the first explanation that comes to mind. The second is that Israel is not afraid of anyone and is the sole power in the region trying to impose its will on other countries, and above all on Turkey.
ORHAN BURSALI IN CUMHURIYET:
It is foolish to think that Turkey can "fight" Israel, which is the number one ally of the US and the EU in the Middle East and the world, after Turkey itself has agreed to play the role of a US and EU loyal ally. The possibility of this is zero.
ELI AVIDAR IN YISRAEL HAYOM:
Israel should attack the UN Palmer Report because it diminished Turkey's responsibility for the flotilla crisis, and exposed to the world the negative role Erdogan's government plays in the Middle East.
EDITORIAL IN JERUSALEM POST:
The Palmer Report's findings clearly find fault with Turkey for implicitly supporting the flotilla, and reject outright Ankara's claim that the naval blockade of Gaza is in any way illegal... Yet, in a supreme act of chutzpah, it is Turkey - not Israel - that is now using the Palmer Report to justify a series of actions meant to hurt relations between the two countries.
ALON LIEL IN YEDIOT AHARONOT:
No one in Israel's government can say they are surprised. The Turks warned again and again what will happen if there is no Israeli apology. Israel had the full right not to apologise, but now it has to deal with the consequences.
AKIVA ELDAR IN HAARETZ:
Government spokesmen went from TV studio to TV studio over the weekend to explain that the avalanche between Ankara and Jerusalem has nothing to do with the apology affair, but rather with the type of regime Turkey has. That could be. But if the Netanyahu government had unfrozen negotiations aimed at ending the occupation and prevented the crisis that led the Palestinians to the United Nations, Turkey might not have made such a major issue out of the flotilla.
AMOS GILBOA IN MAARIV:
The Palmer Report on the Mavi Marmara ship is not balanced. It is very clearly biased in favour of the positions presented by Israel and sharply against the positions presented by Turkey... No wonder that Turkey has rejected outright the findings of the report ... We will have to learn to live with Turkish hostility and the strategic fact that close relations with Turkey will not return as long as Erdogan is in power.
ABDUL-MAJID ABU KHALID IN JORDAN'S AL-RAY:
The steps taken by Ankara in expelling the Israeli ambassador and its rejection of the international report on the Israeli attack on the "Freedom Flotilla" have enhanced Turkey's reputation in the international arena, especially with Arab people, who are longing for a strong stance towards Israel... This is the first time an Islamic country has dared to confront Israel's arrogance.
URAYB AL-RANTAWI IN JORDAN'S AL-DUSTUR:
It would have been better for the Palestinian Authority, with the support of all Arab countries, to have headed to the International Court of Justice to appeal the "legitimacy" of the unjust Israeli embargo on Gaza. However, if the initiative has now come from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the least they could do is to stand in strong support of the Turkish effort and to provide it with whatever means of power and backing it needs.
MAZIN HAMAD IN IRAN'S AL-VEFAGH:
Turkey has taught us a new lesson in how to deal with countries that manipulate us. Unlike our [Muslim] countries, which normally summon the ambassador for a cup of coffee and ask for an explanation - no matter how big the extent of the abuse or violation.
EDITORIAL IN PAN-ARAB AL-ARAB AL-ALAMIYAH:
Few in Israel expected the issue to reach as far as expelling the Israeli ambassador from Ankara... What Israel fears most is that the Turkish penalties will be the beginning of a series of severe measures, because Turkey is capable of taking steps that can hurt Israel immensely.
BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.