Israeli policy (assisted by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden) produced perhaps the best possible outcome.
The UN Secretary General’s Report on the Gaza Flotilla concluded that Israel was within its rights to use force, and found the blockade of Gaza to be legal.
Turkey agreed to Israel’s original condition to the flotilla ships — aid bound for Gaza will offload in Ashdod.
Israel had also wanted to oust Hamas from Turkey — something that may not have been accomplished. But Turkey, by agreeing to a number of humanitarian projects in Gaza, will increase its leverage over Hamas in ways that might benefit Israel.
The announcement of Turkish-Israeli rapprochement was touted first as an economic achievement for Israel. It should be noted, however, that Turkey-Israel civilian trade, as distinct from military trade, was already robust, rising from $1.5 billion in the first half of 2010 to $5.6 billion in 2015. Israel has an interest in Turkey as a customer for Israeli natural gas fields, but a number of countries — including Russia — also seek partnerships in natural gas.
The deal has also been linked to the resolution of three Turkish conditions arising from the “Gaza Flotilla” of 2010. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (who was prime minister at the time of the Gaza flotilla) had demanded an Israeli apology for the deaths of Turkish citizens on one of the flotilla ships, financial compensation, and the lifting of the Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza. The first two were agreed to by Israel years ago. The resolution — or non-resolution — of the third is a window into what is really going on, which is both more, and less, than the news reports.
Critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu naturally blame Israel for delaying the restoration of political and presumably military ties, but, in fact, Israeli policy (assisted by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden) produced perhaps the best possible outcome.
Israel has had some success working with Sunni governments in the region — including Saudi Arabia — on the basis of shared opposition to ISIS and to Iranian plans for regional hegemony. Both are better done with Turkey than without. And Israel’s political and military interlocutors, Russia and Egypt, needed some assurance that would ameliorate their displeasure with Turkish-Israeli reconciliation.