Just minutes before U.S. President Barack Obama - wrapping up a three-day visit in Israel -- boarded Air Force One for Jordan, he gave Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a ring.
After a few formalities, Obama handed the phone to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who proceeded to apologize for the “tragic results” of clashes between IDF soldiers and pro-Hamas Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010.
“Israel expresses regret over the injuries and loss of life,” Netanyahu told Erdogan.
Erdogan’s open hostility toward Israel is a common tactic used by Muslim leaders to boost popularity at home and throughout the region. Turkey under Islamist leadership sides with Hamas, a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, because of the AKP’s ideological affinity with Hamas and because the Gaza-based regime is part of a broader Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated resurgence taking place in Egypt and Tunisia and perhaps will spread to Libya, Jordan and post-Assad Syria.
Turkey’s repeated attempts to obstruct efforts by Israel to improve ties with NATO are another aspect of this openly anti-Israel approach. Under the circumstances, Netanyahu’s apology had little chance of reversing the direction of social undercurrents driving Istanbul’s foreign policy.
In the aftermath of the apology there has been no significant change in Turkey’s attitude. Using the Turkish airbase could mean the difference between Israeli success and failure, an IDF source told the Sunday Times. If Netanyahu’s apology facilitated this strategic achievement, it was worth it.
The Jerusalem Post