Israel's split with Turkey deepens
UPI, May 27, 2010
GAZA, May 27 (UPI) -- Israel has warned that its naval forces will prevent a Turkish-led flotilla of eight blockade-running ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid for the besieged Gaza Strip, a confrontation that could deliver the death blow to the crumbling alliance between Israel and Turkey.
The breakup of that strategic alliance was triggered by Israel's 22-day invasion of Gaza in December 2008.
Turkey's Islamist government led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan bitterly and volubly opposed that incursion in which some 1,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed.
The alliance with Muslim Turkey, a member of NATO and a key military power in the region, was of immense importance to Israel. But the collapse of the 1996 pact has left it deeply isolated at a critical time as it comes under unprecedented international scrutiny and quarrels with its longtime benefactor, the United States, over a peace settlement with the Palestinians.
If the convoy crisis ends badly, with the Israelis using force against 700-800 humanitarian activists from 40 countries, its relations with the United States, which needs Turkish help to resolve a range of regional issues, will worsen, too.
The high-profile attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, imposed in 2007 when the fundamentalist Hamas group seized control of the coastal strip, comes as Erdogan is engaged in a major diplomatic drive to restore Turkey's ascendancy in the Middle East and Central Asia.
"There are no good outcomes to the situation for Israel and no bad outcomes for Turkey," the U.S. global security consultancy Stratfor noted in an analysis Wednesday.
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