The consular ties between Israel and Turkey are deteriorating. Sure sign that things are going to get worse before getting any better, if at all in a near future. The Israelis asked Turkish tourists, men and women, to strip at Tel Aviv airport and generally humiliated them and a day later, Turkey retaliated and herded the incoming Israeli passengers like cattle at Istanbul airport.
Israel is unused to being humbled in this fashion in its region. Yet, Israel knows Turkey can’t be trifled with like any other Muslim country in its neighborhood. And the Arab world is watching Israel finally meeting its match in the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the public opinion in Turkey and Israel is hardening and there could be more such incidents in the coming days.
Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador in Ankara last week and he has been asked to leave by Sept 7. The missions in Ankara and Tel Aviv are to be downgraded to second secretary-level. Turkey is approaching the International Court of Justice to initiate the trial of 13 Israeli commandos who have been charged with the killing of 9 Turkish nationals in the Gaza flotilla incident last year. Israel will be hard-pressed if the ICJ summons its officers.
PM Recep Erodgan is planning an official visit to Gaza in mid-September, which pleases Hamas to no end and infuriates Israel. Interestingly, Erdogan may enter Gaza via Rafah crossing (which Egypt reopened) and he will be doing that after signing a Turkey-Egypt strategic pact. This comes at a time when Sinai is on the boil and Egypt is warming up to Iran. Meanwhile, Palestinians will be initiating their move at the UN General Assembly in September for recognition of their statehood. Israel faces near-total isolation in the Middle East even as social tensions are rising within Israel itself.