Netanyahu - More Left Than the Left?

Monday, June 27, 2016 |  Ryan Jones

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday endured severe criticism from across the political spectrum for going much further than even the liberal, left-wing opposition had been willing to go in reconciling with Turkey.

After years of strained relations, Netanyahu announced that he had achieved rapprochement with Ankara, but many insisted the price was far too high.

Israel and Turkey were previously close allies.

But in 2010, a flotilla led by the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara attempted to break what the UN concluded was a legal and legitimate maritime blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israeli naval commandoes stormed the flotilla’s flagship (an action also later deemed legal under international law), where instead of humanitarian activists they found armed militants who wounded and abducted a number of the soldiers.

The Israelis eventually responded with live fire, killing nine Turkish nationals.

Turkey’s increasingly Islamist leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seized the opportunity to score points with the Muslim world by accusing Israel of piracy and taking a hostile diplomatic stance toward the Jewish state.

According to details of the new reconciliation agreement published on Sunday, Netanyahu has acquiesced to demands that Israel pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the militants killed aboard the Mavi Marmara.

For its part, Turkey has agreed to talk to Hamas about releasing the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during the last Gaza war.

Those terms elicited a furious response from left-wing opposition lawmakers.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said that while “restoring diplomatic relations with Turkey is important…compensating the Turks because IDF soldiers had to defend themselves is unconscionable.”

Fellow Zionist Union (Labor) MK Erel Margalit wrote on Facebook: “Netanyahu again puts his tail between his legs with Hamas, harms IDF soldiers without blinking, and harms the families of the missing [soldiers and civilians]. Once again Mr. Security strengthens the radicals and weakens Israel.”

Former Likud heavyweight Gideon Sa’ar, who has formed his own party to challenge Netanyahu as prime minister, called the deal “a national embarrassment and an invitation for more flotillas and libels by Israel haters.”

Radical Arab MK Hanin Zoabi, who participated in the ill-fated flotilla, called the agreement an admission of guilt “of kidnapping and piracy on the high seas” on the part of the Netanyahu government.

Turkish officials hailed the deal as a great diplomatic victory over Israel.

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