Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu allowed himself to be manipulated by President Obama into calling Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan by phone to apologize for the the IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara in 2010.
President Obama was in the room at the time, spoke briefly to Erdogan and then handed the phone to Netanyahu, who apologized and acknowledged "operational mistakes" during the raid.
You might recall the incident President Obama pressured PM Netanyahu into apologizing over.
The Mavi Marmara was part of a flotilla of ships backed by Erdogan and the Islamist government of Turkey that was trying to breach the Israeli blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, a blockade even the UN has said is legal under international law to prevent Hamas from acquiring heavy weapons and missiles from Iran..
The ships were supposedly carrying humanitarian aid. When the Israeli Navy stopped them, all the ships obeyed orders to sail into an Israeli port and have their aid delivered after inspection - except the Mavi Marmara. By the way, when the ships were examined, they had no 'humanitarian supplies' on board whatsoever. Nor was there was any aid on the Mavi Marmara.
They were simply attempting to cause an international incident and break the blockade.
When Israeli Navy commandos boarded the ship, they were ambushed by the 'activists' armed with knives, iron bars, clubs and firearms. Foolishly, the Israelis were armed only with paint guns designed for crowd control:
Ten Israeli sailors were injured, some to the point they were disabled and had to retire from service. The IDF re-boarded the ship, and when the 'activists' started shooting, the IDF decided enough was enough and returned fire. Nine of them were killed.
Ever since Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP took over Turkey in 2002, the once close relationship between Israel and Turkey had steadily deteriorated. Like most if not all Islamists, Erdogan is not only an 'anti-Zionist' but an anti-Semite.
Erdogan, of course, attempted to turn the Mavi Mamara incident into an international incident and bused it as an excuse to break off relations entirely, but the reality is that if hadn't happened, it would have been something else.
Just last week, he referred to Zionism as 'a crime against humanity' at a U.N. conference in Vienna, comparing it to Naziism. And that was hardly an isolated instance.
The phone call between Netanyahu and Erdogan reportedly lasted about thirty minutes. Erdogan accepted the apology ( something that was almost certainly arranged between Secretary of State John Kerry and Erdogan in advance), the two countries agreed to exchange ambassadors again, and the Israeli government agreed to pay compensation to the families of the dead 'activists', something they had offered to do before. The Turkish government,of course, will not apologize for anything, nor will it pay compensation to the Israeli sailors its citizens attacked. They will , however cancel legal charges against a whole slew of Israelis, including not just the individual sailors who participated in the raid or the officers directly involved but the commander of the Israeli navy, former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, a number of Israeli political figures and probably the door man at the Tel Aviv Dan Hotel.
President Obama issued a written statement on the exchange:
"I welcome the call today between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan.The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security. I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities."
In other words, by sheer force of his awesome persona, he has magically healed the breech is relations between Israel and Turkey.
Except it won't.Erdogan isn't going to change his views on Zionism or Israel, he still is an ally of Hamas and is still an Islamist. Nor are the Israelis going to trust Erdogan or do much in the way of security cooperation, especially since Erdogan purged the Turkish military of any officers he even suspected harbored any feelings of friendship towards Israel or the West and by his own account blocked Israel's inclusion in NATO.
The whole pro forma exchange was agreed to in advance by all parties to provide President Obama with a PR win. Both Netanyahu and Erdogan likely received a concession for doing so.
An unbiased observer might also question how close that American partnership with Turkey is. Aside from freely violating President Obama's sanctions on Iran and being a major source of money laundering and clandestine materials for Iran, the Turks have also shown major hostility to America on a number of occasions, starting with their refusal to allow U.S. bases in Turkey to be used in the Iraq War.
This isn't so much a victory for Erdogan or a defeat for Netanyahu as much as sound and fury signifying nothing, to borrow an apt phrase from Old Bill.