Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir / TPS
by Andrew Friedman
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan renewed his attacks on Israel on Thursday, slamming the United Nations for “collapsing” following Monday’s clashes on the Gaza-Israel border that left 62 Gazans dead and well over 1,000 injured, and saying the international community’s relative silence on the fighting would open “a very dangerous door.”
Erdoğan, who has frequently condemned Israel’s “war crimes” and “genocide” of Palestinian Authority Arabs and openly supports Hamas, has said that Turkey would stand by “our Palestinian siblings not only with our hearts, but with all our resources… we will never allow Jerusalem to be stolen by Israel.”
But a veteran Israeli diplomat said that despite Erdoğan’s outbursts, he does not regret signing the 2016 deal to restore relations between Jerusalem and Ankara.
“Diplomacy is complicated,” said Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, director-general of the foreign ministry and a long-time adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“You don’t get to choose your partners. My approach to diplomacy is to keep focusing on your goals – and my goals at that time, and I believe Israel’s goals, were to repair relations with as many Sunni (Muslim) states as possible in order to (shore up our position) against the real enemy – Iran.”
Gold compared Israel’s relationship with Erdoğan to 1930’s British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who Gold said hated the Soviet Union “more than anybody” but was prepared to form an agreement with Soviet Premier Josef Stalin in order to form an effective fight against the primary threat at the time – Nazi Germany.
“Erdoğan’s behavior is outrageous and absolutely unacceptable, and Israel is right to respond in kind, measure for measure. If he accuses us of ‘genocide’, which is an absurd accusation in any event, we speak about the Armenian genocide. If they subject our diplomats to security checks, we should do the same, Gold told Israel’s Public Broadcast Corporation (Kan).
Asked about Knesset initiatives to officially recognize the 1915-17 genocide of Armenians by Turkish forces and/or to support Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria – two moves that would likely spell an end to Israel’s diplomatic relations with Ankara – Gold declined to comment directly on those measures. But he said the correct way to evaluate Israel’s actions was to focus on long-term interests.
“Our long-term interest is to prevent Iranian expansion around the region. That’s what we have to focus on,” Gold said.