Hyped emotions, and political opportunism aside, the Israel-Turkey normalization
deal, signed on June 27 is unfavorable
for Palestinians – and for Gazans, in particular.
There is much that is being said to
blame Turkey or placate the damage of seeing Turkey – which has for years
of the most visible backers of Palestinian Resistance – reaching out to
Israel. Yet, no amount of text, statements and press releases can diminish the
psychological defeat felt in Gaza following the announcement.
Gazans are emotionally exhausted after ten years of siege, dotted by devastating
wars and the lack of any political horizon. Aside from their resistance, undying
faith and legendary steadfastness, Palestinians in Gaza have looked up with
much hope and anticipation to a few friends. One was Turkey.
The relationship was cemented in May 2010, when Israeli commandos raided the
“Freedom Flotilla” in international waters, killing nine Turkish humanitarian
activists aboard the “MV Mavi Marmara”. A tenth activist died later from his
wounds. Since then, many Palestinians, as well as many Turks, have felt that
the relationship between Palestine and Turkey entered a new phase, not that
of words, but deeds. They had more in common than sentimental gestures of friendship,
now, blood and tears.
There is no question that Turkey, an important NATO member and an American
ally in the region, has been under much pressure since it demoted its diplomatic
ties with Israel in 2011. But the fact is, normalizing ties with Israel without
the latter lifting the suffocating and deadly siege on Gaza was not a criterion
for Turkey. Neither the Turkish economy, political stability nor national security
was exceedingly damaged by the Turkey-Israel rift.
The little known fact is that the rift hardly affected trade between both countries.
“Though political relations had hit rock bottom, both Turkey and Israel knew
business must go on,” Turkey’s
TRT World recently reported.
“Business and politics were separated by a Chinese-Wall like efficiency. Trade
not only continued, but expanded by 26% compared to 2010.”
Moreover, 2013 and 2014 were one of the busiest years for Turkish Airlines
carrying passengers between Turkey and Israel and, in 2015, trade between both
countries had risen to $5.6 billion, according to Turkish Statistics Institute,
cited in TRT.
Still, thanks to what seemed like a principled Turkish position on Gaza, Turkey’s
status, at least among Muslim nations, has been elevated like never before.
Perhaps, Turkey has felt embattled as a result of the war on Syria, the rise
of militant violence, uncertain economic forecast, the flood of refugees, its
conflict with Russia and the political crack within its ruling party. But Palestinians
have played no part in that.
If Turkish Prime Minister, Recep…