They may sincerely believe they’re being strategic, but their reaction against the Freedom flotilla suggests Israel and America are primarily focused on evading the international community. Such an objective could hardly be termed strategic.
Maybe they’ll get through this rough patch like the last few and everything will slowly return to normal. It’s a bad bet that people will forget this time though. Turkey won’t.
If there’s any confusion over Turkey’s interaction with Iran, one can look directly at Gaza, the Freedom flotilla, and ultimately US-Israeli protectionism. We’ll never know how receptive Turkey could be towards US sanctions on Iran while Washington fails to restrain Israel’s actions, then follows on demand. With Turkey evolving into the Muslim world’s political spear-tip against Israel, it now finds itself directly opposed to America, last defender of Israel.
While US officials such as Defense Secretary Robert Gates express disappointment with Turkey’s negotiations with Iran, the feeling is mutual as America shields Israel from an international investigation. Gates remarked in Brussels, “I was disappointed by the Turkey vote on the Iranian sanctions.”
Meanwhile State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley feigned ignorance in response to a Weekly Standard report speculating an investigation.
"We are not aware of any resolution that will be introduced at the UN next week," he said. "We are in discussions with the UN, and I think UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is evaluating the situation."
"We support an Israeli led investigation and we are open to the potential ways in which the international community can participate in it. The investigation has to be impartial so it can been seen as credible. International participation in some fashion can enhance the result, the outcome and the support for the investigation."
It can sound sensible at first to allow an Israeli-led investigation with international monitors, which Israel has reportedly agreed to. Trading Palestinian and Arab support in proxy negotiations at the expense of Israel’s participation would be nonproductive. On the other hand Israel’s participation sounds disinterested, as it considers proxy negotiations a waste of time.
And what good is Israeli support without the Palestinians’ and the larger Muslim world? Or the wider world for that matter?
The odds favor Israel and America heading towards a new confrontation at the UN, so long as they refuse international pressure for an international investigation. Israel is unlikely to allow one because it would probably be ruled against, but the Gaza coast is headed directly towards Israel’s swing allies against Iran. The international community - China and Russia especially - could push back after giving in to sanctions.
They haven’t changed positions on Iran just to see America’s relationship with Israel go unchanged.
Rather than bury the crisis, Israel and America are fanning their own flames surrounding them. They must find a way to nullify the Freedom flotilla without further destabilizing the region. In the end that seems to be an international investigation composed of Israeli, Turkish, Palestinian, Egyptian, US and EU officials. The investigation would be further tied to an initiative on how to end Gaza’s blockade.
If America helps Israel face the situation head on it may be able to escape with relatively modest damage. Resist and the international community will keep resisting back at the command of the Palestinians.
That isn’t the side Israel wants to be on with a two-state solution or Iran’s nuclear program.