Protest at Israeli ambassador's residence in Ankara
Turkish police stand guard in front of the residence of Israeli Ambassador Gabby Levy during a pro-Palestinian protest in Ankara on May 31, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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The Turkish government's political-security cabinet convened Monday morning to assess its options on an official Turkish response to Israel's attack on the Gaza aid convoy, in which IDF troops killed civilians with live ammunition.

 

According to Turkish sources, the Ankara government is currently deliberating on a series of steps it may take. But one thing is already clear - relations between Israel and Turkey have already suffered an official, public blow which will affect the nature of those ties from here on out.

 

Turkey has many options, and every one will affect Israel negatively. Among the available options are a lawsuit against Israel for violating international law and attacking Turkish vessels without provocation, calling on the UN Security Council for an emergency meeting, and engaging Egypt in direct talks in order to convince Cairo to open the Rafah crossing and to officially recognize the Hamas government.

 

The various political and diplomatic options that stand before Turkey also play well into the hands of Hamas, which has been granted Turkish and international support, and is now demanding of Egypt to quit acting like Israel and open the Rafah crossing with Gaza.

With this move, Hamas hopes to shatter the policy of sanctions Israel has imposed on Gaza. Egypt hoped it would not have to get involved in blocking the Gaza aid convoy and that Israel would take the responsibility exclusively upon itself. But Cairo is now starting to feel the strain, and is beginning to understand that it will need to provide practical answers to the public pressure Turkey and other Arab states are exerting.

 

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza, knew better than Israel when he predicted that even if the aid convoy did not reach Gaza, Gaza would have won. So while Haniyeh's political rivals, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister Salam Fayad, are engaging in indirect negotiations with Israel, and while the United States is pushing the two parties into direct talks, the Israel Defense Forces is kicking the diplomatic initiative down the drain. How can Abbas and Fayad continue negotiations, even indirect ones, when a flotilla meant to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza gets attacked?

 

Hamas can now pat itself on the back for another achievement - the resistance it is now advocating is non-violent, and conducted through international organizations, thereby eliminating the need for rocket fire.