Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, embraced Palestinian Authority
chairman Mahmoud Abbas immediately after the UN General Assembly recognized
Palestine as a nonmember observer state. A week earlier Davutoglu stood with
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza. Engaging both heads of the rival
Palestinian factions – Hamas and the Fatah-led PA – is very rare. The two won’t
even meet each other as they compete for world support.
is unlikely to bring Palestinian reconciliation.
Arab countries have
tried. Ultimately, Palestinian leaders will settle their differences only if
they truly want to. Similarly, peace with Israel will come only when Palestinian
leaders decide on direct talks with Israel, not as long as they continue to rely
on regional powers that hinder any progress.
Davutoglu, projecting Turkey
as the Palestinians’ best regional ally, delivered a passionate rewriting of
history in his UN speech just before the November 29 vote. Referring to “the
struggle of the Palestinian people in the past 65 years,” Turkey’s foreign
minister adopted the Abbas narrative that UN approval of a Palestinian Arab
state in 1947 has not been fulfilled.
Others speaking before and after
the vote echoed that theme. Of course, no context was offered. The historical
fact is that the Arab world resoundingly rejected the UN General Assembly of
November 29, 1947, that approved a partition plan to establish an Arab state and
a Jewish state on the territory formerly administered by Great
The failure of UN member states to join Israel in refuting this
historical revisionism will only encourage uninformed citizens worldwide to
accept Davutoglu’s words as fact. Implying that Israel has stood in the way of
Palestinian statehood since 1947 is libelous and dangerous.
revision of a major event in UN history will no doubt be recycled repeatedly in
the foreseeable future.
Trying to be more Palestinian than the
Palestinians, Turkey’s foreign minister went even further.
“No one can
deny the suffering of the Palestinians since the First World War until today,”
said Davutoglu, implying that the Balfour Declaration of 1917, 30 years before
the UN partition plan, was the beginning of Palestinian
Turkey’s posturing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has
become so ardent that The New York Times, in a recent editorial, mistakenly
called Turkey an Arab country.
No wonder Abbas, standing behind the
Palestine delegation table in the General Assembly hall, was ecstatic as he
hugged Davutoglu, after 138 countries had adopted the measure, with only nine
opposed and another 41 abstaining.
Other nations that endorsed the
Palestinian gambit explained before, during and after the vote that they did so
to express support for the two-state solution.
Indeed, Abbas had pledged
before the vote that if successful he would return to the peace table with
Those nations that voted yes, especially EU countries that
provide substantial financial support to the PA, must now follow up and press
Abbas to fulfill his own peace promise.
So far, the United States remains
a lone voice among major world powers, with Ambassador Susan Rice stressing that
peace “cannot be made by pressing a green voting button in this
But US allies in the Arab and Muslim world, like NATO member
Turkey, are proving woefully unhelpful to the peace process. Delighted with his
country’s advocacy for the Palestinian people, Prime Minister Erdogan announced
right after the UN vote that he would finally visit Gaza. He has promised to do
so before, and as Cairo seethed with protesters challenging Egyptian President
Mohamed Morsi, he stayed away again.
Erdogan missed out on traveling with
Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader in exile who was making his own first visit to
Gaza. Would Erdogan have encouraged Haniyeh and Mashaal to pursue peace with
Israel, or might his presence have made Turkey even more of an accomplice
favoring violence? In recent years some have tried to portray Mashaal as a
potential peace partner for Israel. Newsweek featured an interview with him
entitled “Hamas Talks Peace” two years ago, in which Mashaal never said the word
More recently, some in the Western media have concluded that
Mashaal’s leaving Damascus, relocating in Qatar, and pulling away from Iran are
signs of “moderation.”
For anyone who still thinks that Hamas might
possibly reform, Mashaal burst that bubble on his Gaza visit.
is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be
no concession on any inch of the land,” Mashaal declared to a huge crowd gathered
to celebrate Hamas’s 25th anniversary. Proclaiming that a Palestinian state
would be realized through continued war, not negotiation, Mashal reaffirmed the
Hamas Charter’s explicit call for Israel’s annihilation.
nor the PA had any comment on Mashaal’s declaration. That silence is
The writer is the American Jewish Committee’s director of media