What Israel Gains from Reconciliation with Turkey

Three weeks ago, the Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz visited Ankara, where he met with his Turkish counterpart as well as with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in what seemed a further step toward reconciliation between the two countries. Yet Turkey still refuses to accede to Jerusalem’s requests that it expel Hamas from its territory. Ankara, now reeling from a terrorist attack, has been in a difficult position both economically and diplomatically for some time, and it is easy to see how it might benefit from mending fences with one of the strongest powers in the region. But what, asks Eran Lerman, is in it for Israel?

Clearly, at the core of the two countries’ mutual concern at this point is the growing challenge posed by reckless Iranian conduct. In recent months, this has become a highly specific threat to basic Turkish interests, creating common ground with Israel. The immediate trigger for this new impetus for cooperation was the effort by Iranian agents to use Turkish soil for attacks on Israeli citizens—tourists or businesspeople visiting Istanbul—as an act of revenge against Israel’s alleged complicity in the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps operatives on Iranian soil.

The Iranian challenge to both countries is not, however, confined to such terror tactics. Israel and Turkey (and Pakistan as well) share an ally currently under active Iranian threat—Azerbaijan. It is close to Turkey in language, culture, and heritage as well in strategic terms. At the same time, since its independence in 1992, it has been a friend (and energy supplier) of Israel and a significant client of Israel’s defense industries. Following the Azeri success in the Nagorno-Karabakh War of autumn 2020, both Turkish and Israeli flags could be seen in the streets of Baku.

Within the last few months, Iranian threats against Azerbaijan have become more intense, backed by force concentrations and military exercises at the border.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Azerbaijan, Benny Gantz, Iran, Israeli Security, Turkey


The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law