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April 11, 2013 9:42 am

Turkish Columnist: Islamists Caught Off Guard by Israel’s Apology

avatar by Zach Pontz

Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: wiki commons.

A leading Turkish columnist wrote Thursday in Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News that Islamists in that country are far from happy about Israel’s apology for its role in the deaths of 9 Turkish citizens during a raid on a flotilla in 2010.

“They never expected it. Neither did they really want it to come. But when Israel’s formal apology for the Mavi Marmara raid did arrive they were caught off guard. And when [Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan went ahead and accepted the apology they were deeply perturbed,” writes Semih İdiz.

İdiz says that the Islamists “want Israeli noses rubbed in the mud” but that has been far from the case in their opinion. That’s because of the three stipulations Turkey demanded— a formal apology, compensation for the families of those killed, and a lifting of the “Gaza blockade”—only the first has been met so far. The issue of compensation is being held up by the families of the victims killed, who say they will still go ahead with criminal procedures against Israel. And Israel doesn’t appear to have any intention of lifting the “blockade” on Gaza.

“How the government will handle this situation is not clear. There is also the possibility that Erdoğan will bow to pressures from his Islamist grass roots and try to reverse the situation that has emerged after the Israeli apology by finding some excuse or other,” İdiz writes, before concluding: “Populism is all very well but leaders have a responsibility to see the bigger picture and act according to the interests of the nation as a whole, and not just the interests of their grass roots. Netanyahu saw the bigger picture in the end. The crisis with Israel should also provide a lesson to the Erdoğan government on the subtleties of foreign policy administration in a dangerous part of the world.”

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