Israel Cut Out Of Global Counterrorism Forum

By Yossi Melman
Writing for Foreign Policy, Josh Rogin takes up the question of whether Denmark and New Zealand are more deserving than Israel of having a place at the table — when it comes to a new international, U.S.-organized forum to fight terrorism.
global counterterrorism forum, israel spy, spies against armageddonOf course, it is obviously relevant that the new Global Counterterrorism Forum was unveiled in Turkey.
Turkey used to be cooperative, and even friendly, with Israel, but that abruptly stopped in recent years.
Israeli officials are unhappy, to say the least, that they were excluded from the counterterrorism conference.  They tell me they are disappointed that the United States didn’t insist that Israel be allowed to participate, since Israel has been at the receiving end of terrorism for more than 40 years and is clearly an innovative force in the fight against terrorism.
On a practical level, as Dan Raviv and I report in the forthcoming book Spies Against Armageddon, a lot of the counterterrorism methods and measures used by many countries originated in the Israeli experience.  Those include surveillance and interrogation procedures, and the balanced use of military assets and intelligence and security agencies.
Yet Israeli officials do understand  why the U.S. didn’t insist on this matter by pressing the Turks.  Turkey is an important American ally, despite inflammatory rhetoric occasionally expressed by the capricious and unpredictable Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who can now be fairly described as a Turkish Islamist leader.
Turkey is especially important to U.S. interests during the dangerous, unpredictable, and tragic civil war in neighboring Syria.  Turkey would inevitably involved with efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Syria and on another major neighbor, Iran.
“We understand that the U.S. had to make a choice,” said one Israeli source.
The relations between Israel and Turkey were once so strong that they were clearly military and intelligence allies.  But that deteriorated, in the last three years, as Erdogan veered away from a pro-European, pro-Western attitude to a more “Middle Eastern” orientation.
On Wednesday of this week, Israel’s State Comptroller published his report on how the “Gaza flotilla incident” in May 2010 was mishandled by Israel.  A ship manned by mostly Turkish activists, vowing to break the Israeli blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, approached Israeli-Palestinian waters.  Israeli troops boarded the ship, a violent fight broke out, and nine of the activists were killed.  Turkey has been livid with Israel ever since.
The Comptroller’s report criticizes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to take seriously the potential dangers when the boat — the Marmara — approached.   It says he failed to consult effectively with other officials and officers beforehand and failed to make the right decisions.
June 13, 2012

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