Friday, September 02, 2011

Sore Losers

In the wake of a comprehensive UN report which largely, though of course not entirely, vindicated Israel's conduct with respect to the Gaza blockade and the flotilla incident, Turkey has expelled the Israeli ambassador. It also announced that it considered the Palmer Report "null and void", which makes sense, as the report sided with Israel over Turkey on most of the key points and its recommendations for reconciliation (a statement of regret) were considerably closer in line with what Israel had offered than what Turkey had been willing to accept.

Turkey has a habit of being more than a little childish in the international arena, so I can't say I'm surprised that their response to a major defeat in the UN is to simply announce that they're ignoring it. Well, let me be a little more charitable: most UN states ignore UN recommendations that go against their interests or conduct, and I can hardly fault them for doing so given that the bodies in question generally lack basic credibility. What makes Turkey unique isn't that it is rejecting a report that went against them; what makes them unique is their utter unwillingness to negotiate in good faith. They weren't looking for a route towards rapprochement, they were looking for a path towards escalation. There were loads of ways Turkey could have indicated its dissatisfaction with the Palmer Report that didn't entail expelling the ambassador of a friendly nation. As is per usual, it isn't Israel who decided to up the diplomatic ante with its neighbors. Turkey made a conscious decision that it wanted to turn a fissure into a chasm, and it acted accordingly.

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