WHAT IF IS­RAEL HAD HELD PAS­TOR BRUNSON?

Re­solv­ing the Brunson dis­pute may not com­pletely end all the prob­lems be­tween Turkey and the U.S. but it will surely pave the way for dras­tic changes

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - ILNUR ÇEViK

WOULD the U.S. and Pres­i­dent Trump have treated Is­rael the same way they have treated Turkey if pas­tor Brunson was ar­rested in the Jewish state?

To­day, a high crim­i­nal court in the Aegean port city of İzmir will be hear­ing the case of pas­tor Brunson, who is ac­cused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with ter­ror­ist groups in Turkey. There are high ex­pec­ta­tions that the court in İzmir may ac­tu­ally re­lease the pas­tor and thus defuse an ex­plo­sive sit­u­a­tion be­tween the U.S. and Turkey.

The is­sue was blown out of pro­por­tion in the last few months ac­tu­ally threat­en­ing the al­liance be­tween Ankara and Wash­ing­ton with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump spear­head­ing the cam­paign against Turkey by or­der­ing sanc­tions and threat­en­ing the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment.

The case came to a boil­ing point when the İzmir court de­cided to re­lease the pas­tor from jail but or­dered him to re­main un­der house ar­rest. The Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­pected the pas­tor to be re­leased and sent back home.

Of course, the elim­i­na­tion of the Brunson case or some posi- tive de­vel­op­ments in this re­gard may not erase all the hitches we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in Turk­ishAmer­i­can re­la­tions. There are still many out­stand­ing is­sues, es­pe­cially the Amer­i­can sup­port given to the mil­i­tants of north­ern Syria who are off­shoots of the PKK ter­ror­ist group that has been wag­ing a se­ces­sion­ist cam­paign in Turkey for the past four decades.

What is sad is that Wash­ing­ton is not eye­ing Turkey from the same win­dow, as it does some of its vi­tal al­lies like Is­rael.

Would the U.S. and Pres­i­dent Trump treat Is­rael the same as they have done Turkey if pas­tor Brunson was ar­rested in the Jewish state.

Some­thing like that could hap­pen. There are Chris­tian clergy in Is­rael and in Pales­tine who feel strongly about the way Is­rael treats the Pales­tinian peo­ple. It would not be a great sur­prise if a pas­tor with Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship was ar­rested by the Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties and re­quired to stand trial be­cause of their ties with Pales­tinian groups that Is­rael re­gards as ter­ror­ists.

They could well say that the pas­tor had col­lab­o­rated with Ha­mas. Would Wash­ing­ton dis­play the same sen­si­tiv­ity to­wards Is­rael that it has been dis­play­ing against Turkey?

We doubt that strongly. Look at the re­cent case in Is­rael where a young Amer­i­can girl of Pales­tinian ori­gin wanted to en­ter Is­rael with her stu­dent visa to do post grad­u­ate stud­ies but was de­nied en­try to the Jewish state and is now un­der de­ten­tion at Ben Gu­rion Air­port.

The Amer­i­can re­ac­tion to this in­ci­dent to say the least has been luke­warm. U.S. spokes­men say Is­rael has the right to de­cide who en­ters the coun­try. No one ques­tions why an Amer­i­cans cit­i­zen has been de­tained for a week in an air­port cell.

Let us hope Turkey and the U.S. sort out the pas­tor in­ci­dent and con­cen­trate on more press­ing mat­ters.

The U.S. evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor An­drew Brunson, who has been un­der house ar­rest due his ac­tive in­volve­ment in ter­ror­ist cam­paigns in Turkey, is ap­pear­ing in court to­day in İzmir prov­ince.

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