16 April 2014, Wednesday
Today's Zaman

Apology dispute avoids lucrative Turkey, Israel natural gas partnership

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18 March 2012, Sunday /LAMIYA ADILGIZI
As the rift between the two countries continues to deepen, Turkey and Israel seem unlikely to come to a compromise in the near future over restoring the economic and military ties that could bring great benefits to both countries.

In an interview with Sunday’s Zaman, energy and security analyst Emre İşeri said the human factor is emerging as the main trend of Turkey’s policies on Israel. The deadly Mavi Marmara raid conducted by Israeli commandos in 2010 greatly improved “Turkish prestige in the international arena.”

Calling “prestige” one of the most important determinants of Turkey’s regional power, İşeri considers the Mavi Marmara incident to be a predicament that has brought the country’s relations with Israel to a standstill.

Turkey has been publically pressing Israel to issue an official apology over its botched raid of the MV Mavi Marmara during its attempt to carry humanitarian aid through Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Israeli naval commandos stormed the ship, killing eight Turkish civilians and a US citizen. Israel has refused to issue an apology, expressing only regret, claiming that its soldiers acted in self defense.

Turkish-Israeli ties were already strained by the time of the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010, and the killing of the Turkish activists plunged the relationship between the former Cold War allies into disarray. Turkey imposed a set of sanctions on Israel last year after a largely pro-Israel UN report found the Gaza blockade legitimate. “Ankara put itself into a deadlock when it tried to get what it wanted from Tel Aviv by closing dialogue channels,” İşeri said, adding, “Turkey is likely to continue with its ongoing anti-Israeli rhetoric.”

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız, reiterating Turkey’s stance once more, said on March 11 that Turkey would assist in the transportation of the natural gas Greek Cyprus and Israel are due to exploit in the eastern Mediterranean only if Israel apologizes for the deadly Mavi Marmara raid.

İşeri argues that at present it is the Obama administration that can break the deadlock by putting pressure on Israel; however, he does not expect this to happen before the forthcoming elections in November.

Israel is looking to make use of recently discovered offshore gas resources in cooperation with Greek Cyprus, which pushed Turkey to take a firm stance against Israel. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last year that Turkish warships could be sent to the eastern Mediterranean at any time in order to stop Israel from exploring offshore gas fields.

Talking to Sunday’s Zaman, Osman Bahadır Dinçer, a researcher studying developments in the Middle East with a focus on Turkey-Israel relations at the International Strategic Research Center (USAK), reiterated that because the Turkish government has maintained its anti-Israeli politics, it will be “very difficult for the country to step back even if it wants to.” Dinçer says that both in relations with the West and with respect to being a regional power, the political problems in Turkey are not working in favor of the country, especially in economic terms, adding that “the situation is costly for Israel as well.” The collapse of relations between Turkey and Israel did not bypass trade between the two countries, seriously damaging state-run businesses in particular. Commenting on the anti-Israel card the Erdoğan government is using to gain political power in both domestic and foreign politics, İşeri says Ankara is not up to stopping energy exploration in the region. “Ankara has limited ability to block energy developments in the region,” the analyst says, highlighting that he does not see any prospective U-turn in the Turkish stance on the issue in the near future. Israel is expected to be the main gas exporter from the eastern Mediterranean, as it has more than 25 trillion cubic meters of hydrocarbon resources within its territories. Another 230 billion cubic meters of these resources lie in Cypriot waters.

Considering the abundance of potential oil and gas reserves, Israel’s marriage of “energy security convenience” with the Greek Cypriots, and the presence of the US-backed Noble Energy Company in the off-shore gas fields, energy analyst İşeri does not seem optimistic, saying, “Tel Aviv is unlikely to come to an agreement with Turkey, regardless of the potential extra costs involved in exporting those resources to Europe.” Texas-based Noble Energy is currently cooperating with both Israel and Greek Cyprus, carrying out drilling operations in the gas reserves of the eastern Mediterranean.

Moshe, thanks for bringing out this point. I assume there is a misunderstanding on my comment. What I am trying to say is AKP has been endeavoring to gain political capital - or prestige if you call it - out of Mavi Marmara both in the Muslim world and domestic politics. Indeed, when you look at pol...
Emre Iseri
This is trash "The deadly Mavi Marmara raid conducted by Israeli commandos in 2010 greatly improved “Turkish prestige in the international arena" In the US we think of Turkey as a Bully. Congress is waiting for Obama to lose the race and them you Turks will see the Jewish resolve. Israel was just de...
Chiniquy, I can gladly give a satisfactory answer to your question. No, İşeri, so far as I know, and actually I know a lot about him, is not a Jewish. Will we ever ashamed for all those words we utter so recklessly that aim to blacken others. Instead you can come up with some counter point and refut...
Enteresan Olmuş
In response to Chiniquy ; academics do not interfere their religion , ethnic background , and - if they have - ideology on their journey to find the objective scientific thruth. If they do so , they turn out to be , to use the term of Gramsci , "organic intellectuals" , but not academics.
Emre Iseri
Emre İşeri, and Osman Bahadır Dinçer seems to be very pro-Israel. Are they Turkish Jews?
Of all "statemen" of the world this Mr. Perfect Erdogan is the most hypocrite! But he will meet the fruits of his falsehood very soon! All he did in foreign politics turned out to be on the wrong side of history so far!
Not Israel and not Europe can trust Turkey this days. Erdougan prefers to be popular in Gaza and the Muslem World on the account of attaking Israel evry day by teling lies and hate.
"Erdogan Friend"
I wish it were as simple as a statement of apology and although not mentioned -- compensation. Turkey has set itself on a course of anti-Israel positions in order to gain favor with Arab countries. Turkey has also demanded an end to the Gaza blockcade and has joined itself at the hip with Hamas, a...
Turkeys "PRIDE" toward Israel is costing the people of Turkey Billions in lost economy and loss of "Prestige in the Region"
its a shame that erdogan is relentless in its criticism of israel.israel has documentation all over you tube that the mavi civillians were terrorists even making films about martyrism.israel can not apologize for defending themselves.they said they would apologize for loss of life and pay money but ...
Please report the Turkish demand in full. Do not reduce it to the apology only. Turkey demanded a) apology b) compensation and c) lifting of blockade around Gaza.
A. Khan
The Mavi incident revealed Turkey as a supporter of Islamic terrorism. Islamist Turkey is a threat to peace in the region by threatening three democracies, namely Israel, Greece and Cyprus. Only a dictatorship threatens democracies and Turkey is not a democracy.
this is why turks have little honor. after erdogan said the chinese committed genocide against the uighers. this violence continues to today. but sign a couple of contracts and all is forgiven. now the turks offer to forgive israel if turkey is cut in on the energy action. what happened to the apolo...
Turkey disrupting ties with Israel and supporting Hamas caused Israel to strengthen relations with others. E.g., Kurds freely crossing border to provide human based intelligence about nuclear plans in Iran. Erdoğan is betting on the wrong horse.
T. Roosevelt said "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far". Arrogant small stick Erdoğan said "Turkish warships could be sent.." and Turkey goes nowhere, even supporting Hamas terrorism does not pay off.
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