The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called for world-wide opposition of the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan for laying the groundwork for a military conflict with Israel. As reported in the British Telegraph, Turkey has set the stage for a potential naval confrontation with Israel by announcing that Turkish ships attempting to breach the maritime blockade of Gaza will be given an armed escort. Erdogan was quoted as saying, Turkish warships will be tasked with protecting the Turkish boats bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip (Adrian Blomfield, Turkey to provide armed escort for new Gaza flotilla, Telegraph [London], September 9, 2011).
In recent days, Erdogan said Turkey would be totally suspending the once-close defense ties with Israel and that Turkey would implement further sanctions against Israel, that our ships will be seen more frequently in [the Eastern Mediterranean]. Also Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that Turkey would seek an investigation by the International Court of Justice into Israels blockade of Gaza, that Turkey would no longer be recognizing the Gaza blockade, and support flotilla victims who take the matter to court. He also said that Turkey was expelling the Israeli ambassador.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The Obama Administration and, indeed, all responsible, peace-loving governments must oppose the bellicose, reckless and outrageous behavior of the Turkish government. Israel has justifiably imposed this blockade on Gaza for one legitimate purpose: to ascertain that no weaponry or weapons-grade material is on board any ship bound for Gaza, a territory controlled by an internationally recognized terrorist organization, Hamas, which calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel and the worldwide murder of Jews.
If Turkey no longer desires close defense ties with Israel, then that is its prerogative. But it is clear that Turkey is doing much more than merely suspending ties or distancing itself from Israel. It is threatening to ignore Israels lawful blockade of Gaza. Worse, it is threatening to provoke a confrontation by dispatching its own forces to accompany ships seeking to defy the blockade.
This is even more egregious than it sounds, since the UN Palmer Commission recently issued a report that confirms the legality of Israels blockade of Gaza. For Turkey to threaten ignoring a legal blockade, indeed, to assist others in defying it, can only mean that it is willing to risk a confrontation with the Israeli Navy. This is more than likely to lead to a repetition of the deliberate assault on lawful Israel inspectors that occurred on board of the Mavi Mamara last year. Only this time, Turkish naval vessels might be involved. This could lead to a bloody confrontation and even hostilities.
It is in the global interest to prevent such a needless and dangerous conflict. Turkey must be warned to desist from the reckless course it has declared in recent days.