Daily Israel Report

Clinton Offers to Mediate Israel-Turkey Row

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton offered to mediate the row between Ankara and Jerusalem, but Turkey isn't interested.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 9/20/2011, 4:14 AM

US Secretary of State pushed Turkey on Monday to mitigate tensions in its diplomatic row with Israel and "keep the door open."

But Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who met with Clinton on Monday, has so far rebuffed US offers to mediate Ankara's game of brinksmanship with Jerusalem. Washington is concerned the bitter row between key regional allies could disrupt its delicate foreign policy, or even result in open hostilities.

In May of 2010 Israeli commandos boarded the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, which was attempting to violate the blockade of the Hamas terror organization and were faced with a violent mob that attempted to lynch them. In the ensuing violence 9 Turkish nationals were killed.

The UN Palmer Report subsequently concluded Israel's blockade was "legal and appropriate," and while criticizing the level of force employed by the commandos - who first tried less-than-lethal pneumatic guns before switching to live fire - conceded they were confronted by "organized and violent resistance" forcing them to defend themselves.

Turkey, infuriated by the report, dismissed its conclusions, ejected the Israeli ambassador and froze military ties and defense trade deals. Ties strained even further when Erdogan threatened to send warships to escort any Turkish vessels trying to reach Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Additional tensions have emerged over negotiations between Jerusalem and Nicosia to conduct exploratory drilling in Cypriote waters, and the possibility Israel may open a mission at NATO.

The United States and Turkey are long-time NATO allies, but Ankara's new bullish course has put it at loggerheads with Washington, who is upset with its attack on Cyprus, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and tardy backing of Libya’s rebels.

Analysts say Washington is anxious to head off conflict between Jerusalem and Ankara, which could further harm the relationship between the two countries -- but Davutoglu has rejected the US offer.

US President Barack Obama is expected to hold talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday and is expected to raise the issue as well.