Netanyahu publicly placed his reputation and his country’s pride on the line in order to appease Obama and improve relations with Turkey; by ignoring its already agreed upon terms, Erdogan will make the Israeli people less likely to support another far-reaching agreement. By Aaron Magid At the end of a much-anticipated trip to Israel in March, US President Barak Obama achieved a major diplomatic breakthrough. Following years of tension between Turkey and Israel -- two key American allies in the region -- Obama orchestrated a reconciliation agreement between the two sides, which promised to reduce animosity. Although Israeli Prime Minister…Read More... | 25 Comments
Former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was spotted at an Istanbul airport this morning (Saturday). Barak was accompanied by his wife and a security guard. The trio was in transit and spent four hours in an airline lounge. Barak served as defense minister during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 and the 2010 flotilla offensive, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed by Israeli commandos onboard the Mavi Marmara. Both events led to a severe deterioration in Israeli-Turkish relations, which were partly mended recently when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the incident. Negotiations over…Read More... | 6 Comments
The Turkel Committee, appointed following the deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara, determined that the IDF didn’t follow its own procedures in cases of Palestinian civilian casualties. However, the committee also believes that the IDF should continue to be the one probing its own actions. The Turkel Committee, which was appointed to examine the events surrounding the deadly IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara in 2010 has submitted the second part of its report yesterday. The committee declared that the IDF is capable of investigating alleged crimes perpetrated by soldiers (and policemen under army supervision), but had some major recommendations…Read More... | 3 Comments
The Arab League has called on Palestinian citizens of Israel to vote in Tuesday’s parliamentary elections. The unprecedented move by the multi-national Arab group, which in the past supported the Saudi Peace Initiative with Israel, comes as a voter turnout among the Palestinian citizens of Israel – roughly 20% of the Israeli population – is expected to drop yet again. A decade ago three-quarters of Arab-Israelis voted. In the last election, only half did. The majority voted for Arab parties, which are historically excluded – and their voices with it – from coalition-formed governments. Some Arabs end up voting for…Read More... | 23 Comments
An automatic appeal before the Supreme Court will be heard next week. Zoabi's party, Balad, has already announced it will withdraw from the elections if the decision is not reversed. Israel's Central Election Committee (CEC) voted today (Wednesday) to disqualify Palestinian Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi from participating in the coming elections. MK Zoabi is the number two candidate on Balad's Knesset list. The decision is automatically transferred to the Supreme Court, which will hear the appeal next week. Earlier today, Balad announced that if the Supreme Court doesn't allow Zoabi to run, the entire party will withdraw from the elections. The decision…Read More... | 34 Comments
Despite its leaders’ efforts to broker an agreement, Turkey seems to be accepting the possibility of an attack on Iran as a last resort. Now its priority is to prepare for that eventuality, so that a military conflict does not take it by surprise. By Aylin Gurzel FAMAGUSTA – Turkey has tried to broker negotiations between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program. But, with talks repeatedly failing to generate any substantive progress, Turkey’s leaders are beginning to consider how a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would affect their country’s interests. When Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to…Read More... | 5 Comments
European activists are organizing a new flotilla in solidarity with residents of Gaza. Their boat is expected to leave the Baltic Sea in the coming weeks and pass through several harbors in the Mediterranean for events aimed at raising awareness, before reaching the sealed off Strip. Previous flotillas were intercepted by the Israeli Navy, which is expected to stop this trip too. Activists posted a clip on YouTube on Wednesday showing the Estelle, a ship they recently bought for the journey to the blockaded Gaza Strip. The ship is currently on its way to Oslo after going through maintenance work…Read More... | 34 Comments
The military tries to paint the blocking of two unarmed ships as a major military success – and highlights its own faults in the process Our brave troops have raided, at dawn, two unarmed ships, filled with dangerous and enthusiastic peace activists, and have managed to carry out the operation without casualties. The operation actually had a name – Ruah Kalah, “Light Wind” – and was overseen by the commander of the Israeli Navy himself, Admiral Ram Rotberg (Hebrew). Senior brass have told Ynet they were “deeply satisfied” with the results of the operation, though they admit that the success…Read More... | 18 Comments
Israel Navy forces boarded the ships of a flotilla headed for the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon, thereby putting an end to the latest attempt of international activists to sail to the coastal territory. Two ships, the Canadian "Tahrir" and the Irish "Saoirse" set sail from Turkey on Wednesday, carrying humanitarian aid in an attempt to break Israeli's blockade on Gaza. The flotilla - dubbed "Freedom Waves" - was carrying 27 international activists and reporters from Al Jazeera and Democracy Now!, which aired a video report from the Tahrir, as the IDF prepared to board: Before the forces came on board…Read More... | 3 Comments
IDF statements about the siege of Gaza obscure much more than they reveal According to the "IDFSpokesperson" account on Twitter, "Gaza is under a maritime security blockade according to international law." The two-boat flotilla known as "Freedom Waves to Gaza," which the army stopped yesterday from reaching the coastal territory, is, according to the same Twitter feed a "provocatilla." Setting aside the issue of whether or not the blockade is legal--and I don't believe that is--here's what the IDF fails to mention when it starts issuing statements about the blockade: 1) In August of 2008 and October of the same…Read More... | 35 Comments
Update, 10:00 A.M. Friday, Israel time: Flotilla activists report they are some 80 miles from the Gaza Coast. Army Radio reports that Israel Navy ships are already at sea, set to stop the ships from reaching the coastal territory. AFP quotes a flotilla spokesperson who says all ship passengers have pledged not to resist an Israeli naval interception. Meanwhile, Gazans await the ships at the port. Amid growing international wrangling over the Palestinian statehood bid, activists with the flotilla movement on Wednesday launched another attempt to sail to the Gaza Strip in a challenge to Israel's siege of the coastal territory.…Read More... | 9 Comments
Less than six months after an international flotilla failed to break the Gaza blockade, and for the most part failed to get out the door due in part to a strong international pressure campaign launched by Israel and its supporters, another vessel - the "Flotilla of Freedom 2" is said to depart Turkey on Sunday. Not much has been publicized about this latest effort. Organizers told journalists they were hoping to prevent a repeat of thwarted efforts earlier this year. Still, in hopes of documenting any possible confrontation, select international media have been invited to travel with the vessel as it…Read More... | 27 Comments
These are the most challenging times the Middle East has seen in decades, yet one couldn't imagine a more inept government for Israel than the one that sits in Jerusalem Last month, Israel rejected a compromise over the flotilla incident that Israeli and Turkish negotiators reached. The American administration has been applying pressure on Jerusalem and Ankara to reach an understanding prior to the publishing of the Palmer Report. According to recent reports in the local media, both sides to the talks in Geneva had agreed that Israel would apologize for "a military failure" that led to the death of eight…Read More... | 34 Comments
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