A terrorist attack on Istanbul’s main airport killed 42 people and wounded more than 200 when three suicide bombers opened fire and blew themselves up on Tuesday. Following the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemned it and said that “all civilized nations must stand together to fight the scourge of terrorism” while Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told Turkish President Recep Erdogan that their new reconciliation agreement, which was approved by the Israeli Cabinet on Wednesday, would help the two countries work together to combat terrorism. Turkish and US authorities suspect that ISIS is behind the attack on Istanbul’s airport, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, is the deadliest attack ever at an airport.
The attack came just a day after Israel and Turkey reached a reconciliation agreement which restores relations between the two countries after years of strained ties. A catalyst of the deal was Turkey’s decision to drop its demand that Israel lift the blockade in Gaza, which helps prevent arms from reaching Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Strip. Turkey will be allowed to build desalination and power plants as well as a hospital in Gaza. Israel will provide $20 million in compensation to the families of Turkish activists killed on the Turkish flotilla when they attacked Israeli commandos enforcing naval restrictions around Gaza in 2010, while Turkey will drop criminal charges against the Israeli soldiers. Turkey committed to preventing Hamas operatives in Turkey from orchestrating attacks on Israel, and Ankara will also halt its efforts to stymie Israeli cooperation with NATO. Turkey is also expected to assist in negotiating the return of two missing Israeli civilians and two bodies of dead IDF soldiers thought to be held by Hamas in Gaza.
The Turkish-Israeli rapprochement is believed to be motivated by energy and security considerations, as the deal opens up security, economic, and energy-related opportunities for both countries. Turkey is seen as eager to diversify its energy sources and benefit from Israel’s natural gas fields. Jerusalem and Ankara will discuss the possibility of building a pipeline that would transport Israeli natural gas to Turkey and Europe, which would be a major strategic and economic boost to Israel. Furthermore, Israel and Turkey share common security concerns including ISIS, the civil war in Syria, and a desire to isolate Iran. The reconciliation agreement expands on a trend of improving ties between Israel and its neighbors, including increased security cooperation with Egypt, strategic and even public talks with Saudi Arabia, and the strengthening of ties with Greece and Cyprus.
During his final trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories as Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon emphasized that peace can only come through “direct negotiations” between the two parties.“No solution can come through violence, it must be based on mutual respect and the recognition of the legitimate aspirations of both peoples,” Ban said at a press conference held with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, The Times of Israel reported. “No solution can be imposed from the outside, it must be based on direct negotiations on the final status issues,” he added.
Ban’s call for direct negotiations seemed to be a rejection of multilateral efforts, such as the one currently being pursued by France, that would allow the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations with Israel.
The outgoing secretary general also condemned Palestinian violence, saying, “Stabbings, vehicle rammings and shootings have only one name: terrorism.” He called on Palestinian leadership to stop encouraging terrorism, saying, “Incitement to such acts and glorification of their perpetrators are unacceptable and must be stopped.”
He also hailed the progress that Israel made in expanding its role within the UN during his term, especially in the field of sustainable development.
Netanyahu expressed his appreciation to Ban for making efforts to fight anti-Israel bias at the UN during his tenure as secretary general, but lamented that the institution still remains hostile to Israel:
Regrettably, the goal of treating Israel fairly remains unfulfilled across a wide spectrum of UN activities and UN forums. Your visit here comes as the UN Human Rights Council is meeting. As it always does, the Council will condemn Israel, a country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood soaked Middle East.Ban came under fire earlier this year for referring to Palestinian terrorism as “human nature,” or a natural reaction to occupation, without addressing Palestinian failures to negotiate in good faith with Israel or the Palestinian terrorism that preceded the occupation.
Our progressive democracy has faced more country-specific resolutions, more country-specific condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined. And I believe this is a profound betrayal of the United Nations noble mandate.