Israel-Turkey-Hamas: Four ships from the Gaza-bound flotilla that was raided on 31 May Israeli naval forces have arrived at the port of Ashdod, Israel, accompanied by Israeli warships, Al Jazeera reported.
According to Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli soldiers that intercepted the Gaza-bound aid flotilla acted in self-defense, and violence aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of the aid ships, was instigated by those aboard the ship, The Jerusalem Post reported 31 May. Ashkenazi said passengers aboard most of the ships were activists but the Mavi Marmara, the only ship on which violence took place, was sponsored by what he termed an “extremist organization” the Turkish non-governmental organization Insani Yardim Vakfi.
International Reaction: Every country in the world that pays attention to the Middle East or contains a mosque has condemned or denounced Israel. Pakistan has called for Muslim countries to act in concert in peaceful coercion of Israel.
NIGHTWATCH Comment: NightWatch assesses that US diplomacy for a Middle East peace plan is the actual target of the Israeli naval action. Israel has just demonstrated that the US cannot control Israel, undermining any confidence Arab countries place in US promises relating to Israeli behavior. Israel refuses to be bound by US promises.
The timing of the Israeli action appears related to the unprecedented US position of supporting what Israeli leaders consider a hostile resolution in preparation for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review, due in 2012. According to the analysis of The Jerusalem Post, the US was willing to sign the resolution in exchange for broad support for new sanctions against Iran. Ironically, today, Iran issued a statement supporting the resolution!
The Jerusalem Post published the following.
“The cost of the American compromise? A declaration that pressures Israel to sign the NPT and open its nuclear facilities to inspection; appoints a special UN envoy on nuclear weapons in the Middle East; and establishes an international conference, albeit one two years from now, and not next year as the Egyptians wanted.”
“As if to soften the jab, American officials immediately retreated from their support for the resolution and appeared to soften their stance by setting conditions for the conference to take place. Indeed, the American statements raise the possibility that the conference may not happen at all.”
“In a statement on Friday night, US National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones said he had “serious reservations” about the 2012 conference, and said Middle East peace and compliance with nonproliferation obligations “are essential precursors” to a nuclear-free Middle East. He defended Israel, calling the resolution’s failure to mention Iran “deplorable.” (emphasis added.)
Something miscarried if Iran was not mentioned in a compromise resolution whose purpose is to build pressure on Iran. It looks like some negotiators, in their haste to throw Israel under the NPT bus, overlooked Iran.
NightWatch and a few news organizations reported that such was rumored to be the intention of the US administration in January 2010. It created a political storm in Israel then and seems to be a behind-the-scenes causal factor in the weekend’s military action.
In the process, Israel’s Navy once again challenged the Arabs and others: who will fight for the Palestinians, especially Hamas. The strength of the denunciations seems inversely proportionate to Muslim and Arab powerlessness in preventing and responding to Israeli actions. Pakistan, for example, is one of the loudest denouncers, but lacks the credentials to lead the Arabs.
Postscript: Turkey announced it would send armed escorts with any future aid sea convoys for Gaza.