Emad Drimly, Osama Radi
Xinhua (Analysis)
September 6, 2011 - 12:00am

GAZA, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian observers and analysts see the current differences between Israel and Turkey an opportunity for the Palestinian people and their just cause due to the significant role of Turkey in the region.

However, they disagreed over evaluating the advantages the Palestinians would harvest. One question is that whether Ankara would show clear and practical position, and the other is whether the current crisis between the two countries is just a summer cloud since they are two old allies.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that Turkey would soon apply a complain to the Court of Hague against a United Nations-led report, which legalized Israel's blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and against Israel's rejection to apologize for killing nine activists last year.

Turkey earlier this week decided to expel the Israeli ambassador from Ankara and suspended all military agreements signed with Israel. In addition, the decision to go to the Court of Hague was one of the unprecedented steps declared by Turkey in response to Israel.


Hani Habib, a Gaza-based political analyst told Xinhua that the recent Turkish decisions and measures it carried out against Israel were not a Turkish reaction to Israel's assault against the six Gaza-bound ships organized by the Turkish group IHH in an attempt to break Israel's naval blockade last year, but "were an indication to the deterioration of ties between them."

"For example, Turkey slammed Israel last December following an agreement signed between Israel and Cyprus (Turkey's rival) to start digging for natural gas in the Mediterranean," said Habib.

Apparently Israel will be very much influenced by the latest Turkish measures, mainly after Davutoglu's hint that Turkey would carry out all the needed measures to guarantee the safety of a free naval movement east of the Mediterranean, which might lead to confrontations with Israel.

However, Habib believes that severing the military ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv "would be negatively reflected on Turkey," adding that "while Turkey carrying out such negative measures against Israel, this would damage its ties with the United States, which stands to Israel's side."


Although the agreement of cooperation, signed by Turkey and Israel in 1996, was suspended after Israel's refusal to apologize to Turkey and to lift Gaza blockade, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel hopes to settle the disputes with Turkey soon.

Aadel Samara, a West Bank-based political analyst told Xinhua that the current Turkish measures against Israel "are not more than a maneuver and would never lead to a status of clashes between them," adding that "the whole situation is related to the interests of both countries."

He ruled out that there will be soon a full Turkish-Arab rapprochement. However, he added that "Turkey would not take the risk and loose its interests" as a member of the NATO and a country trying to gain a full membership in the European Union.

"I don't think the United States would keep the ties between Israel and Turkey deteriorating," said Samara.

However, Sami Awad, professor of political science at Beer Zeit University in the West Bank, disagreed with Samara, who believes that Turkey wants to be close to the Arab region.


"The recent Turkish position against Israel is a real strategic change in the Turkish foreign policy. Turkey is seeking to get closer to the Arabs," said Awad, adding that the Palestinians would gain benefits, mainly because Turkey is a great country in the region and will curb Israel."

Turkey's objection to the ongoing blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip in the court of Hague was considered by the Palestinians a positive step that would support the full Palestinian right. Israel will have to think carefully before carrying out any action due to Turkey's tough position against it.

Awad didn't rule out that the Turkish support to the Palestinians would lead to hosting the leaders of the feuding Palestinian factions, mainly those who stay in Syria to come to Ankara and agree on the Palestinian bid to the United Nations of demanding a full membership of the state of Palestine.

"The Palestinians, who were counting on the Arab regimes, which collapsed this year, are in need for a strong backing like Turkey to stand to their side. I believe that the Turkish position is certainly serving the Palestinians and their just cause before the international forums," said Awad.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017