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Turkey-Israel Reconciliation Leaves Many Unhappy; Erdogan Lashes Out at Flotilla Organizers

Although it took six years in the making, the reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey has left many angry and disappointed, most of all relatives of the two Israeli soldiers purportedly killed during the 2014 war against Hamas, and whose bodies remain in the hands of Hamas. Given the Israel doctrine of not leaving a soldier – living or dead – behind on the battlefield, the families hoped and believed part of the agreement would be Turkey’s use of its influence on Hamas to bring the soldiers home. But in the final draft, all use of Turkish influence on Hamas was watered-down, to say the least, and the return of the soldiers was not part of the pact. Even the Israeli demand that Hamas not be allowed to maintain its presence on Turkish soil became a weak fiction of separating the fighting elements from the diplomatic/administrative elements. Three angry cabinet ministers voted against the agreement, expressing outrage that a $21 million gift to the families of armed demonstrators seeking to harm Israeli soldiers, liking it to the Palestinian stipends paid to the families of terrorists killed while perpetrating violent acts. Yet, perhaps the most unexpected reaction came from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who castigated the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which organized the blockade-busting flotilla in May 2014. Speaking at an iftar (festive Islamic meal in the evening after a day of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan), asking “Did you ask me before you set sail? Did you ask my permission?” Pointing to his own success, he admonished IHH, saying that now “We have guarantees from Israel that it will authorize the entrance of humanitarian aid we sent to Gaza.”