As you can read at the following Today’s Zaman article, Turkey insists that Israel lifts Gaza’s naval blockade in order for the two countries to normalize their relations. Zaman is one of the largest Turkish newspapers.
Turkey knows very well that the Israelis will not accept to lift the naval blockade of Gaza in order to sell Turkey a few billion cubic meters of natural gas. We are talking about 10-15 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and the Russians would be infuriated if the Israelis were to do that. Not only the Russians would be infuriated, but the Tukrs, the Qataris and the Iranians could then arm Hamas in Gaza without having to take the pain of using the illegal tunnels that connect Sinai to Gaza, with the Egyptians running after them. That means that in a very short period of time the Turks, the Qataris and the Iranians, and other Muslim countries, would transform Hamas to a second Hezbollah.
Map 1 Gaza
Therefore we can be pretty sure that the Turks do not believe that the Israelis would allow Hamas to be turned to a new Hezbollah, while at the same time infuriating the Russians and the Egyptians, in order to 10-15 cbm of gas to Turkey. Even if the Turks were to promise the Israelis that they would use Gaza to only attack the Egyptians, and the Israelis believed them, and they wouldn’t, the Iranians and the Qataris could still attack the Israelis from Gaza, together with other Muslim countries i.e. Sudan etc.
Therefore why the Turks are saying that they want to normalize their relationships with the Israelis, and they want to buy their gas, and at the same time they are asking for a lift in Gaza’s naval blockade, when they know full well that this is not possible? What do they really want?
The first thing I can imagine is that because the United States want their two allies to become friends again, Turkey tries to show that she is doing her best. But the US knows what is really going on there, and they would not fall for it. Therefore this does not seem likely.
The second thing I can think about is that the Turks want to show the international audience, and their internal audience, that they are doing their best to normalize their relationship with Israel. But I wouldn’t go for this one either.
The third case is that the Turks may simply want to do business with the Israelis, without becoming friends again. Turkey wants to buy what Israel wants to sell, and Israel wants to sell what Turkey wants to buy. Who else will buy the Israeli gas long term after the Zohr was discovered? Therefore Israel and Turkey could do business while at war. It would be strictly business, and it something that happens. Don’t forget that ISIS in Syria and Iraq is even selling oil to Assad and the Alawites, while they are killing each other. Therefore Turkey and Israel could follow a similar pattern. Under this scenario the Israelis would not have to lift Gaza’s naval blockade, which means they would still be at war with Turkey, but the Israeli gas would flow to Turkey.
That way Turkey would not hurt her relationships with Qatar and Iran, two Israeli enemies, and would not hurt her image as the leader of the Sunni world, that wants to deliver Jerusalem to the Muslim people. A strictly business relation could occur, except that there is a problem. The Russians would be infuriated if the Israelis were to send gas to Turkey. The Israelis would not want to infuriate Russia, and they would not want to make Russia an enemy by sending gas to Turkey, without at least fully normalizing their relations with the Turks.
This scenario seems to be in line with today’s threats against Israel by ISIS leader, who said that Palestine will become a graveyard for the Jews. Maybe Turkey wanted to remind the Israelis that they do not have to only worry about Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, and her support from Russia, but it should worry too about ISIS in Syria, and its support from Turkey. Due to Gaza’s naval blockade Hamas can be neutralized by Israel and Egypt, but things are much harder with Hezbollah in Lebanon and ISIS in Syria.
Maybe all is Turkey is saying to Israel is that by sending its gas to Turkey their relations can remain as bad as they are, without getting worse. Or maybe Turkey wants Israel to stay away from her fight with Russia, and stop siding with the Russians.
However it does not seem a good thing for Israel to make both Turkey and Russia enemies. Israel has every reason to want only one of Turkey and Russia as an enemy. Therefore it would be difficult for Israel to hurt its relations with Russia before fully normalizing its relations with Turkey. And if Turkey really wanted to normalize her relations with Israel she would not have insisted on the lifting of Gaza’s naval blockade. The problem, as I said to one of my previous posts, is that the Americans work with the Turks against Russia, and if the Israelis were to share intelligence with Russia against the Turks, they would go against their main ally, the United States. Neutrality seems nice, but it is a luxury.
I have to say that I am not sure about the above. I want to see what happens next. But right now I cannot think of anything else that makes sense.
For the articles see:
“Gov’t insists on lifting blockade on Gaza to normalize ties with Israel”, December 2015
“Isis leader claims ‘Palestine will be a graveyard’ for Jews”, December 2015