Turkish-Israeli relations have again reached a boiling point. Turkey has expelled Israel’s ambassador. As expected, the issue of recognizing the Armenian Genocide was immediately broached in the Israeli Knesset.
Not only did Turkey expel Israeli Ambassador Eitan Na’eh, he was also personally humiliated when asked to remove his jacket and shoes at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport before boarding a flight to Tel Avis. No diplomatic niceties were to be afforded the ambassador. The Turkish government went so far as to invite the press to catch the “historic” moment live on video.
Turkey says that the ambassador refused to pay to enter the VIP lounge and thus had to follow the general security measures that ordinary passengers must undergo. Ankara argues that Ambassador Na’eh dis this intentionally as a provocation.
In response. Israel demanded that the Turkish consul in Jerusalem leave the country.
In the meantime, Turkey had recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv.
The cause of the diplomatic fracas was the recent relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Avis to Jerusalem and the Palestinian demonstrations that followed, resulting in the death of sixty Arabs at the hands of Israeli security forces and the injuring of some 2,700 more.
These developments give rise to the following three issues that should concern citizens of Armenia.
How will this recent Turkish-Israeli conflict end? To what extent will the sides exacerbate tensions?
Will Israel recognize the Armenian Genocide, and if it does, how should we respond?
Why is Turkey so concerned over the death of sixty Palestinians while it neglects the death of hundreds of thousands in Syria?
Given that Turkey is a very important partner for Israel, the current public flare-up between the two will probably go no further. Turkey must demonstrate its willingness to defend the rights of Sunni Muslims to expand its influence in the Islamic world. It’s a public relations stunt and Israel understands this very well. It’s no accident that Turkey is being accused of replacing Ataturk’s Turkism with Ottomanism. Then too, general elections in Turkey are scheduled for June and Erdogan couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bolster his credibility within the country.
An article entitled “Divorce and Ottoman Surname: Turkey Expelled the Israeli Ambassador”, that appeared in the Israeli news site Newpress, argues that Erdogan labelled Israel a “terrorist state” only to raise his popularity rating and that now is the right time to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Nevertheless, Israeli Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Yuval Steinitz has said that even though Turkey has become a headache for the West, no country will sever its ties with Ankara based on realpolitik.
Steinitz notes that Erdogan has taken these steps given the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 24 in Turkey and it would be unwise to hasten the severing of ties between the Israeli and Turkish governments.
The minister is now overseeing negotiations on an important treaty between Ankara and Tel Aviv regarding Israeli gas supplies to Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Home party in the Knesset has introduced a bill to recognize the Armenian Genocide. This means that the Israelis understand that Erdogan is “acting”, while at the same time warning him not to cross the line. The Genocide issue is yet again being wielded as a club over Turkey.
It’s high time that Armenia’s foreign ministry publicly declares that it’s no longer acceptable for Israel to use the Genocide as a bargaining chip to achieve its goals. Israel should either recognize the Genocide or table the issue. Cynicism and immorality in politics must have borders.
Armenia should not be afraid to issue such a statement. There are many sincere and moral people in Israel who would welcome such a position and would respect Armenia for doing so.