Dalia Itzik .
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The Turkish planes sent to assist in putting out the Carmel fires earlier this
month presented an opportunity for both governments to open a new chapter in our
strained relations thus far. Our ties deteriorated continuously until the
flotilla incident, after which contact was all but cut off and each leadership
stepped up the rhetoric.
The assistance was indeed a surprising gesture
from a country that was considered as drifting away, and it opened new channels
But the question remains how can we be right and smart
– right in our stance that the violence was aimed at our soldiers who were
forced to respond, and smart in recognizing the importance of ties with Turkey
and the political direction its leadership is taking.
incident might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it came
after a long, consistent decline in our relations – a decline that was lead by
Turkey’s decision to pull away from its regional ally was
deliberate and strategic, and the events on May 31 were part and parcel of the
implementation of that decision.
Today, in attempts to repair our ties,
we must ask ourselves, what is the price we are willing to pay and what do we
expect in return? Acknowledging the tragedy in which nine people met their
deaths and paying reparations to their families is one thing.
for killing them is something else entirely. Furthermore, if we admit that our
soldiers committed a wrong, we would be endangering those soldiers, their
well-being and their freedom of movement in the world.
The alliance of
mutual interests on which relations were based for the past several decades
started to unravel not because of Israel, but first and foremost because of the
change of direction by the Turkish leadership. Today, Turkey must decide between
Europe and the West and Iran and Syria. If it chooses the West, then
Israel-Turkey interests would remain intact, but if not, if it aligns itself
with the leprous Iran-Syria axis, it would not help in rebuilding
Today, Israel must first be smart; it must be the one holding out
its hand in a peace offering, acknowledging the pain of the families of those
who died on the flotilla. But we must remember the goal behind this expression
Will we receive warm relations and wide cooperation in return?
Or will we go back to the cold ties that existed on the eve of the flotilla
incident? Is there a place for Israel on Turkey’s map of interests where it
seeks rapprochement with the West? Or will Israel continue being a target for
the hatred of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his friends, a strategy
intended to win Turkey the title of the leader of the Muslim world.
must take these questions into consideration before we take steps from which
there is no going back. It is worthwhile to try to mend relations with Turkey,
but an expression of regret and compensation must not be made without getting in
return a Turkish understanding that it must be at the forefront of the West’s
battle with radical Islam and not the other way around.The writer is
chairwoman of the Kadima Knesset faction.