Time to talk with Turkey
It would be absurd if Israel, which was prepared to negotiate with Hamas about a cease-fire, was unable to find the right words to apologize to the Turkish people for the Marmara raid.
If the resumed reconciliation talks between Israel and Turkey, reported by Barak Ravid in Sunday's edition, succeed, they could be the most significant diplomatic achievement of Operation Pillar of Defense.
After the two countries understood the degree to which their interests overlap, they overcame the disconnect between them and agreed to have the head of the Mossad and the Turkish intelligence chief work together during the talks in Egypt that eventually achieved the Gaza cease-fire. One could also point to the tectonic shifts in the Middle East, the crisis in Syria and the negotiations with Iran about its uranium enrichment as mutual lines along which Israel and Turkey could continue to cooperate. Just as Turkey understood that bad relations with Israel haven't helped it become accepted as a regional leader or achieve its ambition to be the crisis resolver in the Middle East, so Israel recognizes that, given its international and regional isolation, and with its ties with Egypt so tense and fragile, Turkey is a necessary ally.
There's a lot of bad blood between the two countries. It didn't start with the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which the Israel Defense Forces raided a Gaza-bound aid ship and killed nine Turkish citizens onboard, but with Operation Cast Lead almost 18 months earlier, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to hold off and give him a chance to reach understandings with Hamas. The firm friendship between the two premiers at the time was shattered by the Gaza operation.
The history of the rift between the two countries, however, is not so important now. Great damage has been caused to their mutual relationship and, no less important, to the relationship between the two peoples, because both governments had stooped to keeping petty accounts accompanied by insulting remarks. But the meeting last week in Geneva between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy, Joseph Ciechanover, and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu demonstrates that the two governments are prepared to try to bury the hatchet.
Indeed, it would be absurd if Israel, which was prepared to negotiate with Hamas about a cease-fire, was unable to find the right words to apologize to the Turkish people for the Marmara raid, just as it would be ridiculous if Turkey, which is now prepared to negotiate with Kurdish terrorists, rejected Israeli overtures. It's about time the two countries became friends once again.
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