What Role for NATO and the UN in Israel Flotilla Crisis?

It's complicated

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The international fallout from Israel's raid on a flotilla of activists is quickly turning into official policy at the two relevant international organizations: NATO and the United Nations. The critical country for NATO's reaction is member state Turkey, which has pledged to accompany the next flotilla of aid supplies. But the United States is critical to the United Nations' reaction, especially in the UN Security Council, where the U.S. wields veto power. How will these important bodies react? How should they react? And what role will they play?

  • 'Historic' Condemnation From UN Security Council  The body announced, "The council in this context condemns those acts which resulted in the loss of at least 10 civilians and expresses condolences to the families." Liberal blogger Juan Cole explains why it's an "historic" move. "Although the statement was weaker than the text urged by Turkey and the Arab world, it was brutal compared to the anodyne language usually insisted upon by Washington when it comes to Israel. This development is head-spinning in its implications. The United States almost never allows UNSC resolutions condemning Israel to go forward (though this text was admittedly a presidential statement rather than a full resolution). But here it is clear that President Barack Obama instructed his ambassador to the UN to join in the condemnation."
  • UN Demands End of Gaza Blockade  The New York Times reports that the Security Council resolution "said the situation in Gaza, under blockade by Israel, was 'not sustainable' and called for a 'sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza, as well as unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza.' On the broader Palestinian-Israeli confrontation, the Security Council renewed calls for a two-state solution and voiced concern that the raid on the flotilla took place while United States-sponsored so-called 'proximity talks' were under way."
  • Ultimately, U.S. Still Siding With Israel  Politico's Ben Smith writes, "A delicate diplomatic maneuver by President Barack Obama to smooth frayed relations with Israel without alienating America’s Arab allies may have been blown out of the water Monday morning by Israel’s botched attempt to enforce the Gaza blockade — and by the lack of condemnation from Washington that followed it." Smith says Obama is maintaining "the administration’s apparent, reluctant rapprochement with Israeli’s rightist leader — even if that burying of grudges had deep reverberations for the peace process."
  • Hypocritical 'Selective Outrage' At Israel   The Daily Beast's Leslie Gelb sees a trend. "Well, where was all that international outrage and demand for explanations and retribution when the North Koreans sunk a South Korean ship? Where was it when the Gazans attacked Israel? Where, when Afghan men flogged their women for not wearing veils? Where, when Saudi Arabia funds terrorists around the world? This international outrage is highly selective, isn't it? The one consolation is that the international community, such as it has become, doesn't get anything of value done?"
  • What If Turkey Invokes NATO Treaty?  Article 5 of the treaty states that an attack on any member is considered an attack on all. Turkey, which has pledged to escort future flotillas to Gaza, is a NATO member, as is the U.S. Doug Mataconis warns, "Turkey is a member of NATO and would apparently be entitled to invoke Article V of the NATO Treaty if its ships were attacked by Israel. While a shooting war of any kind between Israel and Turkey seems unlikely, and much of the rhetoric we’re hearing from both sides is just that, worsening of relations between the two states puts the United States in a very difficult position." James Joyner explains why he thinks this won't happen.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.