ANALYSIS: The Turkey Deal – Good But Could’ve Been Better

A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2016. Picture taken June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Sunday. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)

One thing is clear. The agreement to be signed this week between Turkey and Israel may have formally ended hostilities between the two countries, but it won’t turn the clock back to the days when they were close, strategic allies; certainly not as long as Turkish President Recip Erdogan is in power.

Also, don’t expect to see hundreds of thousands of Israelis start traveling to Anatalya for cheap vacations. Israeli-Turkish ties will continue to be influenced by radical Islam which is overtaking the country.

The agreement, based on the main clauses that have been released to the public, is good for Israel. But there’s no doubt that more could have been attained for the same price.

Initially, after the Mavi Marmara crisis, Israel wanted an agreement almost at any price and was willing to give a lot for it. But then the Turks standing began to deteriorate in the Middle East and the world, and things flipped. A deal suddenly became very important to Ankara, much more than to Yerushalayim.

The rare rapprochement in the Middle East, bitterly divided over Syria’s civil war, has been largely driven by increasing security risks with the rise of the Islamic State terror group, and as both countries seek new alliances amid a polarized region.

But in the end, Israel is paying the old price, the higher one. It’s possible that shrewder negotiating could have gotten a deal for much less – perhaps no compensation for the families of provocateurs who were killed on the boat – and could have gained much more, including receiving the bodies of the two IDF soldiers and the return of two people who crossed into Gaza.

We reiterate. The deal is a good one and those who negotiated it deserve praise. It was a long, difficult campaign in which each side wanted to get more and give less.

The impending deal would include $20 million in Israeli compensation for families of those killed in the raid, an end to all Turkish claims against Israeli military personnel and the State of Israel over the Mavi Marmara raid, and the mutual restoration of ambassadors.

A senior Turkish official said that under the agreement, Turkey would deliver aid to Gaza and engage in infrastructure investments to construct residential buildings and a hospital, and to address energy and water shortages in Gaza.

Both Israel and Turkey have reportedly compromised on certain points of contention. Turkey has agreed to ban Hamas from orchestrating terrorist attacks against Israel from Turkish soil. With that, Hamas will be allowed to continue its activities in Istanbul, and Turkey will be allowed to maintain diplomatic ties with the terrorist organization, which controls Gaza and calls for Israel’s destruction.

For Israel’s part, the security blockade on Gaza will remain in place to prevent weapons and potential terrorists from entering the Gaza Strip. Turkey will return to facilitating the rehabilitation process in Gaza, but with Israeli oversight. In other words, all goods and materials earmarked for Gaza will be transferred through the Ashdod port.

Despite the prime minister’s insistence that the reconciliation deal is good for Israel, the agreement has come under fire from a wide variety of critics.

MKs from across the political spectrum slammed the deal, saying that it is hard to understand how Turkey, a radical Islamist state that is responsible for terror attacks on Israel, will now receive compensation for inciting against Israel. In essence, they claimed, Israel is handing a lifeboat to the Turkish government, which can now point to a great political victory.

Others noted the absurdity that Israel will be, in essence, subsidizing attacks on IDF soldiers.

Ultimately, the deal is set to be shown to the Security Cabinet on Wednesday, and barring any unforeseen uproar, is set to pass. The real test of the deal is not so much in regard to the details, but how it will be implemented.