Israel Political Brief April 23, 2013: Israeli lawmakers slam US Secretary of State John Kerry for Boston Marathon-Mavi Marmara comparison



Israeli pols slam Kerry for marathon-Mavi Marmara comparison

Source: JTA, 4-23-13

Israeli lawmakers are condemning U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s comparison of the Boston Marathon bombing victims to the 2010 deaths of Turkish citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara ship….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 22, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu apologizes for ‘tragic’ Gaza flotilla raid as Israel resumes relations with Turkey



Netanyahu apologizes for ‘tragic’ Gaza flotilla raid as Israel resumes relations with Turkey

Source: National Post, 3-22-13

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the breakthrough after a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief March 22, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Speaks with Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan



PM Netanyahu Speaks with Turkish PM Erdogan

Source: PMO, 3-22-13

יום שישי י”א ניסן תשע”ג

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke today with Prime Minister Erdogan from Turkey.

PM Netanyahu told him he had just had good conversations with President Obama about regional cooperation and the importance of Israel-Turkey relations. He regretted the recent deterioration of relations between Israel and Turkey and expressed his commitment to overcoming their differences in order to advance peace and stability in the region

PM Netanyahu said he had seen PM Erdogan’s recent interview in a Danish newspaper and appreciated his words. He made clear that the tragic outcome of the Mavi Marmara incident was not intended by Israel and that Israel regrets the loss of human life and injury. In light of Israel’s investigation into the incident which pointed to a number of operational mistakes, the Prime Minister expressed Israel’s apology to the Turkish people for any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury and agreed to conclude an agreement on compensation/nonliability.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also noted that Israel had substantially lifted the restrictions on the entry of civilian goods into the Palestinian territories, including Gaza , and that this would continue as long as calm prevailed.

The two leaders agreed to continue to work to improve the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.

ראש הממשלה נתניהו שוחח עם ראש ממשלת טורקיה ארדואן

Source: PMO, 3-22-13

יום שישי י”א ניסן תשע”ג

ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו שוחח היום עם ראש ממשלת טורקיה ארדואן. השניים סיכמו על השבת הנורמליזציה בין המדינות, כולל שליחת השגרירים בחזרה, וביטול ההליכים המשפטיים נגד חיילי צה”ל.

ראש הממשלה נתניהו אמר לראש הממשלה ארדואן שהיו לו שיחות טובות עם הנשיא אובמה בנושא שיתוף פעולה אזורי, וחשיבות יחסי ישראל טורקיה.

נתניהו הביע צער על ההידרדרות ביחסי ישראל-טורקיה, והביע את מחויבותו להסדרה של חילוקי הדעות במטרה לקדם שלום ויציבות באזור.

ראש הממשלה נתניהו אמר שהוא ראה את הראיון האחרון שהעניק ארדואן לעיתון דני, והביע הערכתו לדבריו. נתניהו הבהיר שהתוצאות הטרגיות של משט המאווי מרמרה לא היו מכוונות, וישראל מביעה צער על פגיעה ואובדן חיי אדם. לאור החקירה הישראלית של התקרית שהצביעה על מספר טעויות מבצעיות, הביע ראש הממשלה נתניהו התנצלות לעם הטורקי על כל טעות שיכלה להוביל לאובדן חיי אדם, והסכים להשלים את ההסכם על פיצויים.

ראש הממשלה נתניהו ציין גם שישראל הסירה כבר מספר מגבלות על תנועת אזרחים וסחורות לכל הטריטוריות הפלסטיניות, כולל עזה, והדבר יימשך כל עוד השקט יישמר. שני המנהיגים סיכמו להמשיך ולעבוד על מנת לשפר את המצב ההומניטארי בשטחים הפלסטינים.

Israel Brief February 26, 2013: Southern Israel hit by Gaza rocket for first time in 3 months



Southern Israel hit by Gaza rocket for first time in 3 months

Source: JTA, 2-26-13

A rocket fired from Gaza hit southern Israel for the first time in three months….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 24, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting apology to Turkey for now



Netanyahu rejecting apology to Turkey for now

Source: JTA, 2-24-13

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for now has rejected a bid to apologize to Turkey for a fatal raid on a 2010 Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief January 17, 2013: Israel hints at apology to Turkey over Gaza flotilla



Israel hints at apology to Turkey over Gaza flotilla

Source: Jerusalem Post , 1-17-13

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Turkish daily Hürriyet on Thursday that Israel may use diplomatic language inspired by the letter sent by Washington to Islamabad over the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in order end the impasse with Ankara….READ MORE

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon: Israel minister rules out flotilla apology to Turkey


Source: AFP, 7-21-11

Israel will not “take responsibility” for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals by apologising to Ankara over its botched 2010 raid on a ferry heading for Gaza, a senior cabinet minister said on Thursday.

“We are not ready to apologise, as apologising is taking responsibility,” Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters in Jerusalem.

“There is no room in my mind for any kind of apology that means taking responsibility,” he said of the pre-dawn raid on a six-vessel flotilla that attempted to sail to Gaza in May 2010 in a bid to break Israel’s naval embargo.

Yaalon’s comments come after several failed attempts by Israel and Turkey to patch up ties that frayed almost to breaking point after commandos stormed the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara ferry that was leading the flotilla.

He said Turkish representatives continued to insist that relations could only be restored if Israel apologised for the raid, compensated the families of those killed and the injured, and lifted its blockade on the Gaza Strip.

“We tried very hard to bridge the gap … (but) as long as they insist on this position I can’t see any agreement between the two sides,” he said.

“We are ready to regret the loss of lives, we are ready to create a kind of humanitarian voluntary fund,” he said, explaining that if such a fund were set up by Ankara, Israel would be prepared to pay money into it.

But he said there would be no official apology nor direct compensation offered to the families of those killed and the injured.

“A voluntary fund is acceptable, but compensation … means that you are responsible.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has repeatedly said the Jewish state will not apologise for the raid, although privately officials acknowledge that upgrading relations with Ankara would be desirable.

Media reports suggest there is increasing pressure on both sides for a final agreement that would restore once-strong ties between the two countries…. READ MORE

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Israeli President Shimon Peres thanks Greek president for stopping flotilla


Source: JTA, 7-11-11

Israeli President Shimon Peres thanked his Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias, for his country’s help in stopping a flotilla bound for Gaza.

Peres hosted Papoulias on Monday in Jerusalem for a reception and a working meeting.

“I genuinely thank you for fulfilling the directives of the Secretary-General of the United Nations by stopping the flotilla,”  Peres told Papoulias. “I thank you for not allowing people interested in violating the law and disrupting order to reach Gaza, which is ruled by a terror organization.

“Greece, in an impressive manner, showed the U.N. that she stands ready to assist. Your contribution to lower tensions benefits the entire region as well as Gaza itself.  You acted legally and carefully, and I thank you for your personal involvement in this matter.”

Peres called the Greek president’s visit “the start of the opening of a new chapter in Greece-Israel relations. Both of our nations share an ancient past, and I believe we share a great future.”

He also thanked the country for sending firefighting planes and firefighters to help in extinguishing last year’s Carmel forest fire.

During their meeting the two leaders discussed strengthening relations between Greece and Israel in a number of areas, particularly diplomatic and trade relations, Peres’ office told journalists.

Greece Halts Gaza Flotilla Bound to Israel


Greece puts halt to Gaza flotilla in a win for Israel

Source: CS Monitor, 7-1-11

The Greek coastguard escorted a US boat seeking to join the Gaza flotilla back to port and said it will stop all other attempted departures. It looks like a big diplomatic victory for Benjamin Netanyahu.

A pro-Palestinian activist plays a trumpet as others hold banners on their boat named ‘Audacity of Hope’ moored in Perama, near Athens Thursday.

Darko Bandic/AP

A boat carrying a contingent of US activists seeking to join a flotilla of protesters against Israel‘s blockade of the Gaza Strip were turned back by armed Greek commandos about 30 miles out of Athens today, in a major blow to the group and an apparent diplomatic victory for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US boat was carrying about 50 Americans, among them Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. As of the late evening in Greece, the boat was being detained at a Greek coastguard port….READ MORE

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John Baird: Shun Gaza flotilla participation, Canadian foreign minister urges

Source: JTA, 5-30-11

Canada’s foreign minister has “strongly” urged against Canadian involvement in an international aid flotilla slated to leave for the Gaza Strip in late June.

John Baird called the planned aid flotilla “provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza.”

“I strongly urge those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip to do so through established channels,” Baird said in a statement issued May 28.

Baird’s warning comes amid reports that an umbrella group representing about 100 Canadian organizations says it is planning to send a Canadian boat,  named the Tahrir, to the Gaza Strip as part of the second international Freedom Flotilla.

The foreign minister’s words come nearly a year after Israeli Navy commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of an international aid flotilla bound for Gaza, killing nine Turkish activists and drawing worldwide condemnation.

This time, the flotilla is to comprise some 15 ships from several countries.

Baird said Canada “recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns and its right to protect itself and its residents from attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by preventing the smuggling of weapons.”

A more “legitimate and constructive” way to help the people of Gaza, he suggested, is to donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent.

Baird added that “Canada continues to call for the immediate return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas for almost five years, to his family in Israel.”

Israel’s cooperation on U.N. inquiry signals tactical shift

Source: JTA, 8-3-10

The decision by Israel to participate in the U.N. probe of the Turkish flotilla incident marks a stark departure from Jerusalem’s practice of opposing the world body’s investigations of Israeli actions.

A year-and-a-half ago, faced with a similar decision when the U.N. Human Rights Council decided to appoint a fact-finding mission to investigate Israel and Hamas’ actions during the Gaza war, Israel boycotted the inquiry led by retired South African judge Richard Goldstone. Israel would pay a heavy diplomatic price: The Goldstone report was harshly critical of Israel and generated months of negative publicity for the Jewish state.

A year later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking the opposite course with the U.N. review panel looking into the May 31 flotilla confrontation. Nine Turks, including a dual Turkish-American citizen, were killed in the melee that ensued when Israeli commandos tried to board the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla of ships sailing for Gaza in a bid to break Israel’s blockade of the strip. The incident drew worldwide condemnation of Israel.

“Israel has nothing to hide. The opposite is true,” Netanyahu said in a statement Monday. “It is in the national interest of the State of Israel to ensure that the factual truth of the overall flotilla events comes to light throughout the world, and this is exactly the principle that we are advancing.”

The U.N. inquiry out of New York will be led by a former prime minister of New Zealand, Geoffrey Palmer, and will include the outgoing president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, as well as a Turkish and an Israeli representative who have yet to be named. The panel is expected to begin its work Aug. 10 and submit a progress report in mid-September…. READ MORE

MESS Report / IDF probe of Gaza flotilla carefully avoided placing real blame

Giora Eiland’s conclusions on the takeover of the Gaza-bound flotilla are as ineffectual as those he provided four years ago after investigating the abduction of Gilad Shalit.

Source: Haaretz, 7-13-10

Every four years Maj. Gen. (res. ) Giora Eiland is called to the flag. He retrieves his general’s epaulets from storage, squeezes into his fatigues and sets out to investigate the army. The results are fairly similar.

His conclusions on the takeover of the Gaza-bound flotilla, released yesterday, recall those he provided four years ago this week after investigating the abduction of Gilad Shalit: a clear and detailed analysis identifying numerous mistakes, and no recommendations regarding the individuals involved.

Eiland describes a series of mistakes, but none reflecting dereliction of duty. There were not enough soldiers on deck to face off against the violence of the Turks and the unpredicted magnitude of their opposition.

The naval commandos who arrived by boat were met by violence (including live fire ) that stopped them from boarding, leaving the 15 commandos who had slid down ropes from a helicopter at a disadvantage.

Coordination problems among intelligence agencies created gaps in information before the operation started. The navy, according to Eiland, did not properly consider alternatives to the original plan. It was not clear under what circumstances a decision could be made to delay the operation (for instance, an encounter on deck with activists armed with axes and clubs ). After all, the operation was taking place a few miles from Israel’s shores. Tel Aviv was in no immediate danger.

The report also reveals that Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi had warned in a letter to government officials on May 13 – two and a half weeks before the operation – that the military option should be a last resort.

Should he have done more than that? Eiland did not say so…READ MORE

Benjamin Weinthal: Europe Will Never Forgive Israel For The Holocaust

Source: Jewish Press, 6-30-10

As an Israeli psychoanalyst once noted with bitter irony, the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz. The corollary to this observation is that Europeans will never forgive the Israelis and the Jews for Auschwitz.   How can one explain the latest outbreak of European loathing for the Jewish state after it intercepted a flotilla heading for Gaza in open violation of a naval blockade? The widespread condemnation Europeans have expressed toward Israel after its commandos boarded the so-called peace flotilla on May 31 – and used force only when threatened with death – signals a desire to turn every Israeli action of self-defense into absolution for the crimes of the Holocaust.   While the European Union and the UN Human Rights Council somehow manage to contain their displeasure over brutal human rights violations in Libya, Iran, Turkey, China and Russia, both organizations reacted in their standard Pavlovian way to Israel’s justified measures of self-defense aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara.   The UN Human Rights Council – chaired by none other than Colonel Khaddafi’s government – issued a resolution condemning Israel. Meanwhile, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom blasted Israel’s “disproportionate” response, and their handmaidens in the European media turned Israel into a punching bag.   The Europeans’ vicious attacks on Israel are animated less by the Jewish state’s foreign policy than by Europe’s ongoing fixation on the Holocaust. What else could explain the presence of posters equating Israel with Nazi Germany at pro-Hamas demonstrations in Vienna? According to one recent German university study, 45.7 percent of the European respondents supported the contention that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” Advertisement

// In their eyes, apparently, maintaining a naval blockade against a government sworn to destroy you – while providing the unfortunate people living under that government with tens of thousands of tons of supplies and humanitarian aid – now equates to looting and butchering six million people….READ MORE

UN may put forward int’l flotilla probe

Source: Jerusalem Post, 6-17-10

UN  may put forward int'l flotilla probe
Photo by: Moshe Milner

Ban proposes investigation despite establishment of Terkel Committee.

Israel responded coolly Wednesday to indications that despite the establishment of the Terkel Committee to investigate the Gaza flotilla, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was still considering the establishment of an international panel to look into the May 31 IDF raid.

Ban’s office proposed the idea at a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, and a spokesperson in his office said the office was currently involved in talks to determine the potential leadership of such a commission.

Editorial: Terkel’s imperative

Both Israel and Turkey would be encouraged to actively participate in the panel, representatives of Ban’s office said Wednesday.

“The secretary-general is in discussions with different parties to see whether an inquiry with credible international involvement can be accepted by all,” the spokesperson said.

A senior Israeli official noted that Ban did not make any recommendation, but that this was only a “proposal.”

“Israel believes that our investigations meet the highest international standards of impartiality, comprehensiveness, transparency and professionalism,” the official said…. READ MORE

Israelis Support Netanyahu Charging Hypocrisy on Gaza

Source: Bloomberg, 6-4-10

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unequivocal when he addressed the nation on the night of June 2 about the Gaza ship raid: “Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment.”

His message that Israel was exercising its right to self- defense when naval forces boarded an aid flotilla, an operation that left nine pro-Palestinian activists on one ship dead, resonated with Nechama Perelman, a 23-year-old tax adviser.

“There is no need to apologize,” Perelman said while nursing her baby in the Jerusalem Mall the next day. “The army didn’t set out to kill people. It’s easy to judge from far away, and I don’t believe that anything we do will help us be loved by the world.”

A poll of Israel’s Jewish population by the Maariv daily published on June 2 found 94.4 percent of respondents agreed it was necessary to stop the vessel, and 89.1 percent said Netanyahu shouldn’t resign over the matter. The opposition Kadima party has supported the government on the issue, and Netanyahu’s coalition has shown no signs of strain over the incident.

These Israeli views illustrate the gap between how the Gaza flotilla confrontation is perceived at home and abroad….READ MORE

Gaza Flotilla: Pressure Mounts on Israel as Activists Vow to Test Blockade Again

Source: NYT, 6-1-10

Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency

Israeli Army officers in Ashdod stood near a container truck with materials seized from ships that Israeli raided early Monday as they approached Gaza. More Photos »

Israel faced rising international pressure on Tuesday to ease its blockade of Gaza, as the United Nations Security Council called its approach to isolating the coastal strip “not sustainable” and pro-Palestinian groups planned fresh attempts to test the closing of sea lanes around the Hamas-controlled territory.

Palestinians showed identification on Tuesday as they headed toward the newly opened border crossing to Egypt from Gaza. Egypt said it was opening the border for humanitarian reasons. More Photos »

A day after an Israel military raid on an international flotilla trying to breach the blockade left nine foreign activists dead, Egypt, an important partner for Israel in keeping tight control over the flow of goods into the territory, said it would open the land border with Gaza for humanitarian purposes.

Israel’s relations with Turkey, once relatively close, also came under heavy strain. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey called the raid on the Turkish ship, which killed at least four Turkish citizens, a “bloody massacre” and said Israel should immediately end “the inhumane embargo on Gaza.”

At the same time, the volatile Israel-Gaza border seemed to be heating up. Israeli soldiers killed two gunmen from the Islamic Jihad who had infiltrated Israel early Tuesday. Later in the day, the Israeli air force struck a group of militants in northern Gaza who were preparing to fire rockets at Israel, killing three….READ MORE

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