Israel ignoring Ankara rants to avoid role in elections

In an effort to prevent exploitation in Turkey's national elections in June, J'lem is turning a deaf ear to Davutoglu’s anti-Israel comments.

By
June 2, 2011 02:39
3 minute read.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

The government is turning a deaf ear to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s anti-Israel rants because it does not want to play a role in the Turkish elections on June 12, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Over the last couple of days Davutoglu, campaigning in his home province of Konya in central Anatolia, has pounced on Israel in a number of interviews.

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For instance, the Hurriyet newspaper quoted him on Sunday as saying in an interview with the Radikal daily that “there cannot be peace in the Middle East if Israel is seen as a ‘privileged country that is above international law.’ Israel needs to accept being subject to international law as an ordinary nation-state.”

According to Davutoglu, “The crime against humanity committed last year [by Israel against the Mavi Marmara protest ship] still has not been accounted for. Israel must be warned about this.”

Davutoglu also compared Israel’s military steps in the Gaza Strip with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s actions in Libya, according to Hurriyet.

“Israel is killing civilians,” Davutoglu said. “It killed civilians in Gaza. What sanctions were imposed on it? Libya is [Gaddafi’s] own country.

Killings cannot be legitimized, but it’s something happening in his own country. Israel is killing people in another country, in the Palestinian territories. For me, this is the main psychological threshold.”

The assessments in Israel, meanwhile, are that everything being said right now by Turkish politicians must be seen through the prism of the upcoming elections, which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islam-based Justice and Development party are expected to win handily.

According to these assessments, much of what is being said about Israel is meant for domestic political consumption, and by reacting Israel would be playing into the hands of those making the statements.

Israel, meanwhile, continues to work behind the scenes trying to convince the international community that another flotilla, scheduled to launch at the end of the month, is an unnecessary provocation.

Israeli officials have said that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s recent statement against the flotilla was significant in that it may give justification to certain countries – such as Cyprus and Greece – to not let their ports be used to set sail for Gaza.

Ban, according to a statement put out by his office, sent letters on Friday to all the governments around the Mediterranean Sea calling on them to use their influence to discourage such flotillas, which he said “carry the potential to escalate into violent conflict.” Ban said assistance and goods destined to Gaza should be channeled through legitimate crossings and established channels.

A number of other foreign ministries and leaders around the world have come out with statements asking their nationals to refrain from taking part in the flotilla.

For instance, on Saturday Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird issued a statement strongly urging “those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip to do so through established channels.

Unauthorized efforts to deliver aid are provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza. Canada recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns and its right to protect itself and its residents from attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by preventing the smuggling of weapons.”

Statements such as these are seen in Jerusalem as eroding the flotilla’s legitimacy. Moreover, if Israel again has to take action against the flotilla to keep it from reaching Gaza, these statement will be used to provide legitimacy for the government’s actions.

Much of Israel’s diplomatic activity is aimed at creating a more understanding diplomatic environment if the navy has to once again stop the flotilla.

Israel has made clear that it will enforce the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, despite the claims of the organizers of the flotilla that they have some 1,500 people ready to set sail, and some 13 or 14 vessels, the assessment in Jerusalem is that this is an exaggeration, and that the organizers are having difficulty both raising money to fund the purchase of boats, and finding companies willing to insure them.


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