Turkey offer to mediate between Israel, PA derided in J'lem

Gul: Whether the Arab uprisings lead to democracy and peace or to tyranny and conflict will depend on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

April 22, 2011 01:21
2 minute read.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul

abdullah gul 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israeli officials on Thursday dismissed as “chutzpa” Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s offer for Ankara to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians and his claim that an Israeli-Palestinian peace will determine whether the current uprisings in the region lead to democracy or tyranny.

One government official noted with irony that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who famously and in Hebrew addressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from a rally in Ankara last June and said, “Thou shalt not kill,” has been quiet as two leaders he forged close ties with – Syria’s Bashar Assad and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi – gun down their own people.

The official said Gul’s conclusion that it was up to Israel to cement Arab democracy was an attempt to divert attention from Turkey’s strong support over the past few years for regional autocrats.

Gul, in an op-ed piece published in Thursday’s New York Times, wrote that whether the Arab uprisings “lead to democracy and peace or to tyranny and conflict will depend on forging a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and a broader Israeli-Arab peace.

“The plight of the Palestinians has been a root cause of unrest and conflict in the region and is being used as a pretext for extremism in other corners of the world,” he wrote. “Israel, more than any other country, will need to adapt to the new political climate in the region.”

According to Gul, “Israel cannot afford to be perceived as an apartheid island surrounded by an Arab sea of anger and hostility. A dignified and viable Palestine, living side by side with Israel, will not diminish the security of Israel, but fortify it.”

Because an Israeli-Palestinian peace would be good both for Turkey and the world, Gul said, “we are therefore ready to use our full capacity to facilitate constructive negotiations.”

“Turkey’s track record in the years before Israel’s Gaza operation in December 2008 bears testimony to our dedication to achieving peace,” he said. “Turkey is ready to play the role it played in the past, once Israel is ready to pursue peace with its neighbors.”

The idea of the Turkey of the Mavi Marmara protest ship playing any role in negotiations was widely scorned in Jerusalem.

One senior diplomatic official said that if Turkey wanted to play a constructive role, it could start by stopping further flotillas sailing to Gaza, stop backing terrorist-supporting organizations such as IHH, and take a more even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“At the moment they are 100 percent in the Palestinian camp,” the official said.

Another official said that “people who want to help facilitate peace, have to have the confidence of both parties,” something Erdogan and Gul’s Turkey lacked when it came to Israel.

And a third official said it was ironic that the Turks, rebuffed by the Egyptian and the Libyans in trying to mediate the crises in those countries, now thought they could come here and mediate between Israel and the Palestinians.

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