As Haaretz reports, PM Netanyahu began courting Greece shortly after the fallout from the Mavi Marmara debacle, in an effort that served two purposes: bringing Greece in as a steady firewall against subsequent flotillas; and bringing Turkey to heel to save its deteriorating security and diplomatic relations with Israel. Contrary to much of the commentary that portrays Israel forcing Greece into the role of flot-blocker, the article contends that it has instead been Israel’s constant advocacy for aid from the EU that has created the relationship:
Israeli diplomats can attest that the budding friendship between the two countries over the course of the past year-and-a-half has been nothing short of dramatic. Intelligence communication has increased, the IAF has conducted a number of joint exercises with Greece’s air force and Netanyahu has requested Papandreou’s assistance in passing on several messages to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Many of Netanyahu and Papandreou’s talks in the past few months have revolved around the severe financial crisis Greece is currently suffering. Netanyahu recently decided to come to the aid of his newfound friend in a meeting of foreign ministers and European leaders, imploring them to provide Greece with financial aid.
“Netanyahu has become Greece’s lobbyist to the European Union,” an Israeli diplomat said.
In recent weeks, as efforts to stop the impending pro-Palestinian flotilla to Gaza came to a head, Netanyahu reaped the benefits of his investment in Israel-Greece ties and his gamble on the European country paid off.
He was able to create a viable alternative to relations with Turkey in several regards, showing Erdogan that Israel will not hesitate to become close to its greatest enemy in the West.
Israel’s efforts, and the US’s most likely, have not gone unrewarded with Turkey, apparently, either, as Haaretz also reports that the two countries are cooperating in creating a seamless burial of the UN report on Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara:
Turkey, meanwhile, is concerned about the committee’s apparent criticism regarding Ankara’s role in the flotilla, particularly its ties with the group that organized it – IHH, which has links to Hamas.
Turkey has asked Israel to agree to have the report toned down as part of a deal meant to reconcile the two countries and bring the Turkish ambassador back to Tel Aviv.
The heart of the dispute remains Turkey’s demand that Israel apologize for its role in the events.