Erdogan Says More Penalties Coming, As U.S. Seeks to ‘De-Escalate’ Crisis
By Marc Champion, Wall Street Journal
ISTANBUL—Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that his country was suspending defense trade with Israel and that Turkish naval vessels would be seen in the eastern Mediterranean more often, as Ankara ratcheted up pressure in a rising dispute with its former ally.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara after giving a speech at the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Erdogan said the suspension of military agreements with Israel, which Turkey had previously announced, would include trade in defense goods.
“Trade relations, military relations, defense industry—these we will suspend. These will be completely frozen and that process will be followed also by very different sanctions,” he said.
He said the measures still to come would be a “Plan C” to the “Plan B” already announced.
Turkey said Friday it was downgrading diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in response to Israel’s continued refusal to apologize for the killing by Israeli commandos of eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American on board the Mavi Marmara aid ship, as it sought to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in May last year.
As the rift deepens between Israel and Turkey, two of the U.S.’ most important Middle East allies, the Obama administration said Tuesday it was moving to “defuse” the crisis.
“We are concerned about the state of the relationship,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday. “We have over many months tried to work with our ally Turkey and our ally Israel to strengthen and improve their bilateral relationship. We still believe that getting back to a good partnership between them is in each of their interests, and we will continue to work for that goal with both of them.”
Turkey has announced no general trade sanctions against Israel. A spokesman for Mr. Erdogan said the prime minister had been referring in his remarks Tuesday only to trade in defense goods, and not to trade in general. On Monday, Turkey’s economy minister had said there would be no broader trade sanctions “for now.”
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment Tuesday. Other Israeli officials contacted said privately that they don’t wish to engage Mr. Erdogan in a public debate so as not to be seen as further aggravating political ties.
Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. who works with the Israeli government, called Mr. Erdogan’s comments part of Turkey’s “childish” reaction to the United Nations report released last week that stated the Gaza blockade was justified but that Israel’s use of force was “excessive and unreasonable.”
Turkey and Israel had nearly $3.5 billion in overall trade in 2010, according to official Turkish figures, a record reached during a sharp downturn in the political relationship. Moreover, trade rose more than 25% in the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year, Israeli and Turkish figures show.
Separate data for defense-related trade weren’t available. Past major deals, however, included an agreement worth an estimated $600 million to $700 million under which Israel modernized Turkey’s aging Phantom F-4 jets, and a $668 million pact to upgrade its M-60 tanks.
Last year, Turkey took delivery of 10 Israeli-built Heron unmanned aerial vehicles, a $183 million deal.
Officials and analysts say those contracts are complete and no new large agreements have been signed for several years as political relations soured. Now the main potential loss is the purchase of spare parts from Israel, should Turkey strictly enforce its own embargo. Turkey’s defense exports to Israel tend to be lower-end equipment such as uniforms, analysts said.
A report released last month by Tepav, an Ankara-based think tank, said past Turkish threats to cut off trade with Israel haven’t hit trade as a whole, which has seen a healthy expansion. Most of the business is in the private sector and the two economies complement each other, the report said. Turkey is strong in construction, chemicals and textiles, while Israel offers software and other technology products from industries that are weak elsewhere in the region.
“Business has become an area immune from political upheavals,” the report said. “The threats of canceling large infrastructure projects and other joint ventures have not gone beyond words. As a matter of fact, most of the projects involve private companies. Furthermore, boycotting of member nations is against OECD rules.”
Turkey and Israel are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Responding to a question about reports that Turkey would begin patrolling waters off Israel and whether that risked conflict, Prime Minister Erdogan said Turkey had a right to do so. “The eastern Mediterranean is not a foreign place to us,” he said. “Of course, our vessels will be seen from now on very often in these waters.”
He also confirmed he would be traveling to Egypt soon, and said he “might” visit Gaza. A spokesman for Mr. Erdogan said the visit to Cairo would take place between Sept. 12 and 14.
Joshua Mitnik in Tel Aviv contributed to this article.
Says NCA Group chairman Yair Geller who has a factory in Istanbul.
Yuval Azoulai, Globes
Close inspections, questioning, and long delays are what awaited dozens of Israelis who arrived at Istanbul Ataturk Airport this morning on a Turkish Airways flight from Ben Gurion Airport. Yet another incident that underscores the deterioration in Israeli-Turkish relations.
The passengers, mostly businesspeople making working visits to Turkey, reported a humiliating experience. “One of the managers of my group called me from there and told me that he was being held up at the airport, and that his passport had been sent to the police for inspection. He was released an hour later, and allowed to go,” NCA Group chairman Yair Geller told “Globes”. The company manufactures automotive components in Turkey. “The problem is that, this morning, the Turks decided to do to Israelis what Israel has been constantly doing to every Turk who arrives in Israel. Sometimes, when I invite Turkish guests to Israel, I am ashamed: security checks and interrogations, delays, and questions to the Israel Security Agency that can take three hours, as if the visitors are detainees. We constantly humiliate them, and they are now paying us back.”
Geller is scheduled to visit NCA’s factory in Istanbul tomorrow. He says that this morning’s incident does not deter him. “I don’t know where these relations are going; I haven’t a clue. I strongly hope that things will calm down and get back to normal, because the current situation is becoming hallucinatory,” he says. “I employ 120 people in Istanbul, many of them local engineers. I have plans to expand my factory there, double its production and its workforce, but at this stage I have no idea what the day will bring. I strongly hope that the political tensions and current situation won’t disrupt my plans.”
Some of the Israelis detained at Istanbul Airport said that while they received a humiliating, disrespectful, and arrogant reception, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor attaché Joseph Avraham told “Globes”, “I was delayed for 15 minutes, but other were delayed for much longer. I did not hear anyone complain about the attitude.”
Avraham said that, as part of job, he was alert to claims by Turkish businesspeople about the tough attitude they receive in Israel. He said, “I help every Turkish businessperson who wants to come to Israel. In general, business and economic ties between Israel and Turkey are good. I believe that bilateral trade will reach $4 billion this year. Both countries have things to offer the other.”
Avraham took up his post three weeks ago. “I know that I took up this post at a difficult and tense time, but this is a great challenge. I simply believe in the potential of good relations between the two countries.”
Turkey suspends Israel defence ties over Gaza aid raid
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country is suspending all defence ties with Israel.
The move follows the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador over its refusal to apologise for the 2010 raid on a flotilla of activists heading for Gaza, in which nine Turks were killed.
A UN report has concluded that Israel used “excessive force” in its raid, but that the naval blockade was legal.
Turkey has vowed to take the case to the International Court of Justice.
Based in The Hague, the ICJ is a permanent UN court set up to rule on state-to-state disputes.
In reality, experts say it is unlikely Turkey will be able to take Israel to the ICJ since, under court rules, Israel would need to give its consent for the action to be heard.
Mr Erdogan said Turkey was “totally suspending” defence ties with Israel, after downgrading diplomatic relations with the country.
“Trade ties, military ties, regarding defence industry ties, we are completely suspending them,” he told reporters in Ankara. “This process will be followed by different measures.”
Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador on 2 September and also suspended military co-operation with Israel last week.
Israel has expressed regret for the loss of lives.
But Mr Erdogan described the raid as “savagery” and accused Israel of acting like “a spoiled boy” in the region.
A US state department spokeswoman expressed concern over the row between the two countries, urging them to “de-escalate” their dispute.
“Our emphasis with both the government of Turkey and the government of Israel is to hope that we can de-escalate, we can defuse, and we can get them back to talking about improving their relationship,” Agence France Presse quoted spokeswoman Victoria Nuland as saying.
The two countries have had substantial military co-operation during the past two decades, but that has decreased in recent years, says the BBC’s Jonathan Head in Istanbul.
If there were any doubts about Turkey’s attitude to its once-lucrative defence arrangements with Israel, Mr Erdogan has dispelled them, he says.
However, most of the deals with Israeli companies, like the upgrading of Turkey’s US-made jets and tanks, have already been completed.
The last of 10 advanced drones, or unmanned aircraft, have been delivered, and Turkey does not plan to buy any more. But it may still need Israeli technical assistance to operate those drones, which play an important role in the war against Kurdish insurgents, adds our correspondent.
Turkey’s manufacture of Israeli-designed armoured vehicles – essential equipment for the soldiers fighting in the south-east – could also be affected.
In the past, the Turkish armed forces might have been able to stop such a break in relations with their Israeli counterparts.
But this year, the generals are for the first time firmly under the thumb of a civilian government, which is determined to show its displeasure with Israel, says our correspondent.
The nine pro-Palestinian activists who died were on board the Turkish-flagged ship, Mavi Marmara, when it was intercepted by the Israeli navy in international waters as it sailed towards Gaza’s coast on 31 May 2010.
At the time, the Israeli military said its commandos fired live rounds only after being attacked with clubs, knives and guns. But activists on board said the commandos started shooting as soon as they hit the deck.
The UN inquiry found Israel’s naval blockade had been “imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law”.
It said Israeli troops had faced “significant, organised and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to use force for their own protection.
But it also said Israel’s decision to board the vessels “with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable”.
The report noted “forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range”.
Turkey suspends Israel defence and trade ties
Erdogan halts trade, military and defence ties after Israel’s refusal to apologise over Gaza flotilla attack.
Turkey is “totally suspending” all trade, military and defence industry ties with Israel, the Turkish prime minister said.
“Trade ties, military ties, regarding defence industry ties, we are completely suspending them,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in Ankara on Tuesday.
“This process will be followed by different measures,” said Erdogan, who referred to Israel as “a spoiled child”.
Turkey has not frozen military ties with Israel, Amos Gilad, the head of the Israeli defence ministry’s diplomatic-security bureau, told Israel’s Army Radio, saying that the Israeli military attache in Turkey is still serving as usual.
“Turkey has a lot to lose from making this kind of extreme decision,” Gilad said.
The call to suspend the ties comes a day after the Turkish minister of economy had said that bilateral commercial ties would continue as usual, Al Jazeera’s Serpil Karacan reported from Istanbul.
Suspension of “the miiltary ties is very significant between the two countries to the degree that it’ll have some impact on Turkey as well, especially for the Heron planes and especially for military intelligence,” she said.
Turkey downgraded diplomatic relations with its former ally to the level of second secretary last week after Israel refused to apologise for the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish-flagged protest flotilla that killed nine pro-Palestinian activists last year.
On Friday, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador in Ankara, suspended military deals and vowed a greater naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Erdogan said the Israeli diplomats who had been ordered out of Turkey must leave by Wednesday.
Last week, a United Nations-mandated inquiry into the deadly Israeli attack on the flotilla said Israel’s action were “excessive”.
“Israel’s decision to board the vessels with such substantial force at a great distance from the blockade zone and with no final warning immediately prior to the boarding was excessive and unreasonable,” the inquiry says.
The UN investigation into the events on the Turkish-flagged ship known as the Mavi Marmara, the largest of six vessels that were commandeered by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010, was headed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, a former prime minister of New Zealand, aided by Alvaro Uribe, the former Colombian president, along with a representative each from Israel and Turkey.
It said, however, that the flotilla “acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade” set up by Israel around Gaza.
The inquiry called for Israel to make “an appropriate statement of regret” for the raid and pay compensation to the families of the dead as well as to injured victims.
Turkey and Israel should resume full diplomatic relations “repairing their relationship in the interests of stability in the Middle East,” the report said.
Gaza trip hinted
Erdogan hinted on Tuesday that he might make a visit to Gaza, though adding that no final decision had been made yet.
“We are talking with the Egyptians on this matter … A trip to Gaza is not finalised yet,” Erdogan, who is due to visit Egypt next week.
Israel has expressed regret for the loss of lives in the 2010 flotilla raid but refused to issue an apology for what they say was their soldiers’ act of “self-defence”.
Karacan said the tension between Israel and Turkey was deeply rooted and had escalated as Ankara displayed an active interest in the Palestinian question.
“Israel was never happy that Turkey had a more Islamist-inclined government that shows more interest in the Palestinian question and takes it to heart and supports it in all international platforms,” she said.
Erdogan announces more sanctions on Israel
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Turkey would suspend commercial defence industry ties with Israel, the most recent in a series of sanctions following a row with Israel over a 2010 raid on an aid ship bound for Gaza.
By News Wires (AP) , France24
AP – Turkey’s prime minister said Tuesday his nation’s navy will step up its surveillance of the eastern Mediterranean Sea – a move that could potentially lead to confrontation with Israel – and warned of more sanctions against Israel as relations between the former allies deteriorated further.
Turkey has already suspended its vast military ties with Israel, said it is expelling top Israeli diplomats and pledged to lobby other nations in support of the Palestinians’ statehood bid after Israel refused to apologize for last year’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists.
The sudden measures mark a stunning reversal for the two nations, who were once each other’s top military trading partners and used to regularly train together on each other’s soil.
Israel has expressed regret for the loss of lives aboard the flotilla and said Tuesday it was time for the two countries to restore their former close ties.
“Israel and Turkey are the two strongest nations in the Middle East and in many respects, the most important,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest threats.
“We have disputes, and even in the case of disputes, it’s very important that the two sides use their brains and not act from the gut. It would be best for all involved and in the interest of regional stability to patch things up,” Barak said.
A United Nations report released last week said Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was a “legitimate security measure,” but also called the raid on the flotilla that tried to break the blockade “excessive and unreasonable.” It also said Turkey and the flotilla organizers contributed to the bloodshed.
Israel has accepted the U.N. report, albeit with reservations. Turkey has rejected it.
Erdogan has said the “report does not mean anything for us,” and announced the suspension of some trade and military relations. Turkey has not imposed a trade embargo on Israel but suspended ongoing defense projects and purchases from Israeli defense firms.
The breakdown in relations has hurt a key alliance for Israel, which has considered Turkey its strongest ally in the Muslim world.
It is unclear what impact the Turkish decision to scale back economic ties will be. Israeli defense officials said there have not been any new agreements since 2008, just before relations began to deteriorate.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a sensitive diplomatic matter, said Israel was committed to the existing deals and would continue to provide military gear to Turkey despite the latest crisis.
At its height in the late 1990s, Israel exported to Turkey billions of dollars worth of tanks, unmanned aircraft and military technology. Turkey is also a top business partner and tourist destination for Israelis.
Israeli officials noted paradoxically that despite the tension in recent years, 2011 has been a record year thus far in overall trade.
Relations began deteriorating as a result of Israel’s campaign against Gaza rocket launchers in early 2009, in which about 1,400 Palestinians were killed, and worsened dramatically after the May 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara vessel.
Turkey’s latest moves were prompted after it was disappointed by the U.N. report’s failure to criticize Israel more strongly and force it to apologize.
Erdogan did not detail what the next round of sanctions against Israel would include. But he vowed to ensure “freedom of navigation” in the eastern Mediterranean by using Turkey’s naval bases in the ports of Iskenderun and Aksaz to “keep the area under constant surveillance.”
“Of course, our ships will show themselves quite often from now on. We will see it very often,” Erdogan said.
Israel’s navy closely protects its coastline and enforces the Gaza blockade, but does not have a major naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s main opposition party warned last week that military moves could lead to confrontation between Turkish and Israeli forces.
“The probability that (Turkey’s ruling) party has carried Turkey to the brink of a hot conflict is saddening and unacceptable,” said Faruk Logoglu, a deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People’s Party.
Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to Turkey, said a conflict on the seas was a possibility.
“I don’t think they would dare to penetrate Israeli waters,” he told reporters in Jerusalem. But he said Turkey may try to disrupt future Israeli gas exports to Cyprus and he warned of a new Turkish-Egyptian alliance that could isolate Israel in the Mediterranean.
Israel’s opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, on Tuesday urged the countries to “put aside all the emotions and to enter the room and to discuss what are the next best steps in order to stop this crisis.”
Israeli military officials said they doubted the crisis would devolve into violence. One senior official said the Israeli assessment is that Turkey is not looking for a conflict, but is trying to flex its muscles with Israel to gain influence in the Arab world.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to discuss the matter publicly.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan refused to back down in a row with Israel Tuesday, accusing his country’s former allies of behaving like a spoilt child
By AGENCIES, Islam-on-line
ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan refused to back down in a row with Israel Tuesday, accusing his country’s former allies of behaving like a “spoilt child” and threatening to visit the Gaza Strip.
As Israel said it wanted to avoid relations worsening, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed a halt to all military cooperation and that Turkey’s navy would conduct more high-profile patrols in the eastern Mediterranean.
Erdogan’s threat to send warships into waters where Israel’s navy operates raises the risk of a naval confrontation between the two powers.
“The eastern Mediterranean is not a strange place to us”. Aksaz and Iskenderun “these places have the power and opportunity to provide escorts”, Erdogan said in Ankara, referring to two Turkish naval bases.
Of course our ships will be seen much more frequently in those waters.
Erdogan also plans to visit Egypt on Sept. 12-14 to discuss political coordination and economic ties, an Egyptian government official said.
Some media reports had suggested Erdogan would travel from Egypt to Gaza, but the Egyptian official said he did not expect such a trip to take place.
Erdogan will also attend the UN General Assembly in New York later this month where he is likely to give strong backing to Palestinian efforts to win UN recognition for a state they aim to create in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
Turkey announced last week that the Israeli ambassador Gaby Levy was being expelled and all bilateral military agreements were suspended as it angrily rejected the findings of a UN probe into the deadly flotilla raid.
Now in his first official reaction since that announcement, Erdogan went even further.
“We are totally suspending our trade, military, defense industry relations”, he said.
His office later clarified however that Erdogan did not mean a suspension to commercial ties in general but merely in the defense industry area.
“We suspended all military agreements, especially the commercial ties in defense industry”, Erdogan said later Tuesday in a press conference with his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
“We have taken the first steps. These are not final”, Erdogan added.
Ties with Israel began to unravel after Erdogan voiced outrage at an Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009.
Asked about Erdogan’s remarks, an Israeli government official said: “Israel does not want to see further deterioration in its relationship with Turkey.”
Turkey has also taken issue with the UN panel’s conclusion that Israel’s blockade is a legitimate measure to stop weapons reaching Hamas militants in Gaza.
Erdogan said Turkey was preparing more sanctions against Israel, and specifically said defense industry ties would be frozen.
“Trade ties, military ties, regarding defense industry ties, we are completely suspending them. This process will be followed by different measures,” Erdogan said.
An official at Erdogan’s office said the prime minister was referring to military and defense trade ties only, not overall trade, which last year reached a total bilateral volume of $3.5 billion.
Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said earlier Turkey would do nothing “for now” to change its economic ties with Israel.
Turkish media reported that Erdogan held a meeting with Turkey’s chief military commander, General Necdet Ozel, to discuss developments with Israel.
Some Turkish and Israeli commentators have suggested Turkey might use the feud with Israel to build up naval patrols in seas between the Jewish state and Cyprus.
Turkey has bitterly complained about recent Cypriot-Israeli energy deals and the presence of Turkish ships would have a menacing effect.
Asked about exploratory drilling for natural gas by Greek Cypriots, Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s European Union minister, told Turkish media last week: “It is for this (reason) that countries have warships. It is for this (reason) that we have equipment and we train our navies.”
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in remarks broadcast before Erdogan’s announcement, urged the two states to act with calm.
“Israel and Turkey are the two strongest and in many respects the most important countries in the Mideast. We have our differences, but in differences too it is important that both sides act using their heads and not their gut that will be best for us all and best for regional stability and restoring things,” said Barak.
The US expressed concern Tuesday over the diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel, urging them to “de-escalate” their dispute.
“We are concerned,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland after Ankara raised the stakes by announcing it was suspending military and defense industry ties with Israel.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised US concerns about the row in Paris with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotoglu. And the US has had discussions with the Israelis about it in recent days, Nuland said.
“Our emphasis with both the government of Turkey and the government of Israel is to hope that we can de-escalate, we can defuse, and we can get them back to talking about improving their relationship,” she said.
“There are freedom of navigation issues for both Turkey and for Israel. But we want to avoid future confrontations, and we want both of these strong allies of the US to get back to a place where they have a good working relationship with each other,” she said.
Turkey crisis is just start of Israel’s diplomatic tsunami
The crisis in relations with Turkey is a red alert of the attacks we’re in for on the diplomatic, security and economic fronts, affecting the lives of 450,000 protesters, demanding social justice.
By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz
What’s the connection between the masses demanding social justice Saturday night and the worsening relations with Turkey and the expected recognition in the United Nations of a Palestinian state? What does Tel Aviv’s Kikar Hamedina have to do with Istanbul’s Taksim Square and Ramallah’s Manara Square? What does the debate between supporters and opponents of shattering the budgetary framework have to do with the Palestinians’ budget deficit or the downgrading of relations with Ankara? The return of the ambassador and his deputy to Israel will save the state two fine salaries and make a little more money available for free education for toddlers.
With all due respect to Turkey (we haven’t shown any; remember the low-chair affair ), the Israeli people will survive even without an ambassador and deputy ambassador in Ankara. No disaster will happen if the United Nations we so disparage throws the Palestinians a bone and a few young men march toward the settlements. Our highly trained soldiers will charge, the settlers’ dogs will jump them and all will be well.
Right? Wrong. The crisis in relations with Turkey is a red alert of the attacks we’re in for on the diplomatic, security and economic fronts. It will affect the lives of 450,000 protesters and many more people who demanded social justice from their living room couches.
Government spokesmen went from TV studio to TV studio over the weekend to explain that the avalanche between Ankara and Jerusalem has nothing at all to do with the apology affair, but rather with the type of regime Turkey has. That could be. But if the Netanyahu government had thawed the negotiations on the end of the occupation and prevented the crisis that led the Palestinians to the United Nations, Turkey might not have had to make such a major issue out of the flotilla.
When Turkey called its ambassador home, it showed the way for the ambassadors of Egypt and Jordan in Israel, and that’s just the beginning. After the United Nations fulfills the Palestinians’ request for a state, the Palestinians won’t be able to consider themselves a temporary entity called the “Palestinian Authority.” How will the French react to Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to return from an official visit to Paris with a passport from independent Palestine?
Abbas is 76 yeas old. His close associates are certain that since the United Nations will show Israel the way out of the occupation, Abbas will find his way out of the Muqata. The veteran Fatah activist Jibril Rajoub recently told a group of Israelis visiting Abbas’ office that sitting in front of them was the last partner to a two-state solution. Indeed, it’s hard to find a Palestinian leader who is prepared to state publicly that his presence in Ramallah is also an expression of the fulfillment of the right of return. (Hamas websites have excoriated Abbas for saying this. )
The young people from Rothschild Boulevard should keep their tents handy. They will need them soon, when they’re sent to guard their brethren, the settlers. Those who don’t want to deal with the occupation today will be dealt with by the occupation tomorrow. And if protesters don’t have the time to address marginal issues like universal justice, they should ask their economists how much the looming international crisis will cost us.
Turkey’s threat to confiscate Israeli goods is only the first step. In the first quarter of the year Turkey imported around half a billion dollars in goods from Israel – only two other countries import more.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz might remember the anti-Semitic statement by Gen. Evelyn Barker, the commander of the British Mandate forces in Palestine, that the way to punish the Jews was by striking at their pockets. Steinitz is threatening to freeze the Palestinians’ tax money as punishment for their move in the United Nations. Last week he threw the Palestinians down the stairs, and after them the American ambassador, along with their request to expedite the transfer of their money – yes, theirs – so they can pay their salaries early because of the holiday. That’s what is done to bad children.
Not even a doctor of philosophy can answer the question of who will pay the salaries of the Palestinian teachers, police and doctors after the PA announces it is disbanding and the donor countries turn off the faucet ($1.5 billion a year ). Will Steinitz send tax clerks to collect money from the merchants of Hebron to cover the Palestinian deficit (about half a billion dollars )? From what budget provision do the social protesters propose funding the damage from the diplomatic and security tsunami?