Israel's World Standing Hits A Low Point
DANIEL SCHORR: From any reasonable perspective, it must be said that the prime minister known as Bebe blew it.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: In a violent engagement with the so-called freedom flotilla of aid to Gaza, the Israeli commandos have not been able to demonstrate that the six ships were carrying anything other than humanitarian assistance. The first casualty of the clash with the Turkish-led mission was Turkey, which has been Israel's closest friend in the Muslim world.
President Obama, in his speech to the Turkish parliament last year, spoke of Turkey as a partner in the quest of Middle East peace. Now, Turkey has withdrawn its ambassador from Israel and there have been demonstrations on the streets of Turkish cities.
If the blockade was aimed at bringing down the Hamas regime in Gaza, regarded as an arm of an Iranian-supported band of terrorists, it has not worked. There is no sign that Hamas is challenged from within Gaza. There are signs that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is beginning to face a challenge within the American government.
There was an explosion in March, when Israeli officials announced a large scale plan for new settlements in occupied land at a moment when Vice President Joe Biden was on an official visit to Israel. The Israeli prime minister apologized for the timing, but not for the fact of the announcement.
So, next, the Gaza flotilla. Netanyahu was in Canada, preparing to continue on to Washington and the make-up meeting with President Obama, when the Gaza relief flotilla approached the shore. In the wake of the violent clash, Netanyahu skipped the Washington visit, probably with some hints from Washington, and flew home to Israel to deal with the latest uproar over his tough stand on the Palestinians.
The United Nations' call for an impartial inquiry into the clash at sea has not so far done much to still the international clamor. President Obama voices regret over the lives lost, but has not so far been willing to condemn Israel. The Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks, which the president has sponsored, are now in jeopardy. And it must be said that the position of Hamas has improved and the position of Israel has diminished as a result of the fatal clash at sea.
This is Daniel Schorr.