This is an extraordinary hour long forum held at Davos about Gaza. The participants are Amr Mousa, Secretary General of the Arab League, Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is PM of Turkey and Shimon Peres, president of Israel.

The first to speak was Ki-Moon, who was diplomatic but got in a couple of serious swipes at Israel. The next to speak was Erdogan who attacked Israel quite angrily and was then supported by Mousa. Peres was the last to speak and he spoke passionately and at length in response. He loses it a little at times, but his general presence is angry and combative. He starts talking around the 40th minute of this video but I strongly encourage you all to watch or listen to the entire clip.

At the end, Erdogan seeks to respond to Peres and is given an opportunity but when he starts to repeat himself after a couple of minutes, the moderator tries to stop him. Erdogan does not appreciate being told that he’s had his say and storms off angrily, claiming that Peres got twice as much time to speak. Not true. Still, the moment of peevishness is a serious diplomatic snafu for Israel which has has made serious efforts to engage Turkey as an ally in recent years. You can read more about it here.

Also today, a Spanish court has decided to consider whether several Israeli military men and Israel’s former Minister of Defense were guilty of “crimes against humanity” for a plane bombing of a building that held a prominent terrorist by the name of Shehadeh. In the bombing, a building collapsed and 14 civilians were killed and other injured. We will all get to watch now as the world puts Israel on trial.

Make no mistake, these are victories for Iran and for Hizbullah and Hamas. They are victories for undemocratic regimes which are being supported by the benign Western powers that have done little to stop these forces and have done much to support them (Germany supplies Iran with all sorts of technology, the EU gives billions to prop up the Palestinian leaderships, the UN has an entire section ironically focused on Human Rights that focuses on Israel and is run by anti-democratic regimes, UNWRA is the only UN organization focused on the plight of one group of refugees, etc.). These are victories that slowly chip away at Israel and weaken it, weaken its citizens’ resolve, weaken its confidence that it can prevail against the Arabs’ aggression and these are victories that turn Israel truly into a pariah state.

These are also victories for non-state actors that cynically use their civilian population as fodder and cover. They have perfected this system and have proven that if you don’t fight them you lose and if you do fight them, you lose more.

And all this after Israel LEFT Gaza. All this after Israel waited for years to respond to the rocket attacks.

Those of us who supported the exit from Gaza are watching and wondering what will happen if we support an exit from the West Bank. Will the Palestinians start firing from there with impunity as well?

UPDATE: Sadly, Shimon Peres called Edrogan and apologized.

“I am very sorry for what happened and friends could sometimes have an argument between themselves,” Peres told Erdogan during the telephone conversation. “I have always had a great respect for the Republic of Turkey and you as the prime minister. I consider myself as a friend of Turkey and Premier Erdogan.”

What the hell did he have to apologize about? Still, I guess he gets points for not letting ego get in the way of necessary diplomacy.

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  • As a result of both events:
    Workers’ union committees are being asked to not arrange trips to Turkey. Turkish resorts have become a cheap way for Israelis to get away overseas.

    Terror victims group ‘Almagor’ is going to subsidize Serbs who chose to prosecute Spanish pilots who bombed Belgrade.

  • The term “settlements” is unclear to me in the context of these articles. Are they referring to anything beyond the ’67 Green Line?

    Besides, the fact that Israel leaves unilaterally is also an indication that the other side does not wish to come to an acceptable compromise. This does not permit the other side to launch attacks. If they want to talk, they know the address.

  • This should answer your first question: “According to the report, there were 285,800 settlers living in the West Bank as of 2008,”

    “This does not permit the other side to launch attacks.”

    Actually it does. Without an agreement, what remains of the West Bank on the Israeli side of the barrier would still be occupied territory. Israel’s unilateral annexation won’t be recognized, just as no one has recognized the annexation of E. Jerusalem. The Palestinians thus would be permitted under international law to try to regain that territory by force.

    Anyhow, did you read the Meretz USA link?

  • Um, under international law Israel is not sitting on occupied territory even if lots of people use that phrase. The Palestinians, to remind you, never controlled east Jerusalem, the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, or for that matter any part of Israel. Ever. They have no right to attack. Ever.

    On the other hand, Israel is a sovereign state and any attack against it justifies its military response.

    Yes, I read the Meretz article and responded to it. If the suggestion by Meretz or anybody else is that the Israelis need to come to terms with the Palestinians to avoid the fate described in the article, they should really make an effort to understand that compromise is a two way street. We know from Camp David and Taba that the Palestinians refuse to share the Temple Mount, refuse to share any part of east Jerusalem and refuse to forego the coming of their “refugees” second, third and fourth generation into Israel. Those are issues where if you don’t compromise, you can’t achieve peace and they know it. They believe time is on their side.

  • “Um, under international law Israel is not sitting on occupied territory even if lots of people use that phrase. ”

    Including the Israeli High Court of Justice:
    In the first part we shall discuss the Supreme Court’s caselaw regarding the military commander’s authority, according to the law of belligerent occupation, to order the erection of the separation fence. This caselaw was developed by this Court in scores of judgments it has handed down since the Six Day War. (one of several times the court has invoked occupation)
    George Bush: “There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967,”

    In fact, TM, no country in the world besides israel doesn’t recognize the territories as being under occupation. You may rant and rave and say that doesn’t mean they’re right, but it does mean they won’t recognize the occupation has ended just because Israel declares it so, no matter how much you and Dore Gold stamp your feet in indignation. sorry.

  • Like xisnotx, I find the ‘we left Gaza unilaterally, so don’t blame us if the place goes to hell’ argument unconvincing, as is “they know the address”. What would have happened, and how would you have reacted, if the US had simply withdrawn from Sunni provinces in Iraq three years ago, and al-Qaeda and the insurgency had taken over? ‘Don’t blame us, it’s not our fault’? I doubt it.

    The approach of waiting til the Palestinians get their poop together manifestly isn’t working. Any solution to the conflict will be agonizingly difficult if within reach at all. Yet your answer ro terror state in the south, terror state in the north, waxing Iranian influence is . . . . sitting passively on the near side of the security fence.

    You really think this is responsible?

    Erdogan’s getting a “hero’s welcome” back in Turkey, per the BBCWS.

  • “In the course of the years, Israeli settlements have been established in the Gaza Distric and the areas of Judea and Samaria… The status of these settlements derives from the status of the territory, which is held in ‘belligerent occupation’… When the petitioners settled in Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, they did so in full knowledge that they were settling in territory held by Israel in belligerent occupation…” (Israeli government before Supreme Court, Spring 2005).

    “How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.” (Golda Meir, 8 March 1969) .

  • Tom:
    What then would be a “convincing” – or even cogent – explanation of Gaza’s status?

    For decades lefties have been decrying the “occupation”. Israel’s “unilateral” withdrawal from Gaza gave all parties except the Israeli right-wing what they’d been claiming – and still claim – they want: Israel Out of Palestine, as the placards still say.

    But if that really happens – as it has in most of the West Bank and Gaza for over a decade of “peace making”, and completely in Gaza for 2 years – if that really happens, then the Israelis can no longer be blamed for Palestinian behavior and breakdown.

    Yet is is essential to Left-wing thought to blame Israelis – as the Designated Colonial Oppressor – for the plight of the Palestinians.

    So: after decades of saying brutish Israel should let the Palis determine their own fate, Israelis say – right, there you are, get on with it.

    And the Gazans elect Hamas, and cheer them on. With predictable results.

    And the non-sequitir response at this late point is to still blame Israel. To still talk about Israeli “occupation”! Not because of any real oppression or occupation – but because left-wing victimology politics requires that reality be crammed into the Noble Savage/White Oppressor set-piece.

    What is it about the notion of Palestinians getting independence – and being responsible for their actions – that is “unconvincing”?

  • Hamas and the Gaza Palestinians who support them are malevolent idiots who don’t deserve our sympathy, much less our support.

    That doesn’t mean that Israel can’t take affirmative steps to shape a long-term future satisfactory to it. If the Palestinians can’t be trusted etc., why leave the outlines of such a future largely up to them, which is the effect of Middle’s approach?

  • Israel can’t be blamed for the Hamas rockets, but can we conclude that leaving behind a vacuum in Gaza was wise policy?

  • “But if that really happens – as it has in most of the West Bank and Gaza for over a decade of “peace making”,”

    uhh, ben-david, did you see the Ynet article I posted that says settlement building increased in 2008 over the previous year? During the decade you cite the settlements kept growing. So what are you talking about?

  • Xisnotx, we’ve had the occupation debate before. I repeat again that the areas remain under dispute because they are not Palestinian. When Israel left Gaza, it essentially ceded Gaza to the Palestinians. Take a look at UNSCR 242 and tell me whether they are talking about the Palestinians in there.

    Tom, Israel didn’t just leave a vacuum in Gaza. It left Gaza in the hands of the PA. That Fatah lost the election was also not Israel’s fault because the Israelis asked the US not to press them to allow Hamas to run. The US, led by Condi, forced Israel to shut up and then Hamas won the election. It won an election. Does winning an election – one that was certified by Carter, by the way – sound to you like the silence of a vacuum?

    What Israel didn’t do was come to a full agreement with the PA regarding its departure. However, even there you had discussions. For example, one of the reasons that no Jews were left in Gaza was that the PA didn’t want any. Saeb Erakat is quoted as saying, in an official capacity, that there should not be any “settlers” left in Gaza.

    What I don’t understand is what you folks expect from Israel. If Israel negotiates with the Palestinians and they refuse to move on the key issues of the conflict, “refugees,” Jerusalem and the holiest site to Jews in Jerusalem, then Israel cannot conclude a deal. In this case, it can either maintain its current activities or act unilaterally.

    If Israel maintains what it does now, settlements will continue to grow because these families have children and their children grow up and have housing needs – that’s what is meant by “natural growth” – and security arrangements like the checkpoints and presence of Israeli soldiers among the Palestinians will remain. If it leaves the areas with heaviest Palestinian population, Israel leaves its own citizens in danger as we saw in 1998-2002. If it evacuates unilaterally, you still hold it responsible for the Palestinians even though they have a leadership.

    So please tell me what should Israel do?

    I used to think unilateral withdrawal was the most moral solution for Israel. However, as the Gaza experience shows, without serious military intervention, the West Bank would simply become the next launching area for attacks.

    Removal of Israeli civilians to the west of the Fence seems to be the other possiblity, but again, you need a military presence to prevent the Gazaiation of the WB by the Palestinians.

    Or a peace deal…except that you need a partner who will compromise on the key issues, and that partner does not exist.

    Which leaves the current situation as the unfortunate best option.

    But I’m all ears folks, tell me what Israel needs to do.

  • Interesting note on the settlements in Haaretz today — apparently the paper got hold of Israel’s settlement database (or a report from it) with all the parts of the settlements that are built on Palestinian land.

    Whatever people think about international law, I would hope they agree that theft under Israeli law is still illegal.

  • “I wonder if I’m becoming more right wing.”

    not a lot of room left to your right

  • Really?

    And I thought I was in the center.

    Explain to me how I’m so far to the right there isn’t much room left.

  • Middle worries that Israel is becoming a “pariah state.” His post is mostly about public relations. A threshold question: do you care? Because Israel can sit behind its (literal and metaphorical) security wall, rely on its patron the United States, and not give a damn about what anyone else thinks.

    If public relations matter– putting peacemaking to one side for the moment– clearly the existence and expansion of the settlements has profoundly damaged Israeli credibility. Israel is in breach of its obligations to rein in and roll back ‘outposts’ and illegal settlements, and (arguably, I suppose) to prevent settlement expansion.

    Now, this is not why the region remains engulfed in violence. And there is an available legal argument, akin to the Anglo-Saxon contract law doctrine that the material breach of an agreement by one side, in this case the Palestinians, excuses the other side from performance.

    Still, if the concern is Israel’s standing in the world community, this is the heart of the problem. Making it worse, is what Middle has addressed on many occasions: the lack of credibility, if not corruption, of Israel’s political leadership. Few people east of US territorial waters believe anything Olmert, that lamest of ducks, says.

    Peres did a good job at Davos, I thought (Erdogan seemed oddly dense), but here’s the problem– again, in terms of public relations– with Peres’s argument:

    You and I see the Gaza operation as a straightforward execise in national defense. Hamas lobs rockets, Israel must respond, as any state would. Full stop.

    Israel’s critics, however, link Gaza, and what Israel says about it, to the peace process. That is, Annapolis and thirteen months of sweet-talking and Bush-related rump-swabbing by the Olmert government. Again, Olmert’s lack of credibility hurts Israel greatly. There’s not a scintilla of progress on peace in over a year, yet Israel resorts to overwhelming force in Gaza with alacrity, and people shake their heads and ask: When will this ever end? Does Israel really think any lastingly good result can come of this carnage?

    Now, this is not my view. I reject that linkage. But those who rally to the flag with Israel under attack, and support it unquestioningly as the rockets fall on Sderot, should understand many responsible people in the West see it as far more complicated than that.

    Back to settlements. (And by the way: how does Middle’s view differ from that of Caroline Glick, for example, who would refuse to yield an inch of ‘Judea and Samaria’?)

    Here’s where Middle’s reasoning is flawed. Middle looks at Gaza, and thinks, if this is what happens when Israel pulls back, it can’t afford to do so again. In fact, however, the correct conclusion is precisely the opposite. Gaza shows that more pullbacks are required.

    The Gaza operation shows that Israel cannot re-occupy the place, even after bombing it extensively and putting Hamas to flight. Nor can Israel blockade ordinary people into rising up against Hamas. For all its might, Israel cannot unilaterally implement a political strategy for Gaza. Apart, that is, from abandoning as a practical matter its policy of not dealing with Hamas, and periodically cutting truce deals.

    That’s the bad news. The good news: the West Bank stayed quiet. The incumbent Palestinian PM is reviving the economy and giving people a stake in peace. Surely, everything must be done to bolster the PA. Yes, Abbas is a pitiful mediocrity, but that puts him in the top 10% of Arab leaders…. He’s not calling for jihad and wants to stay engaged. That’s the bottom line.

    I think therefore you’re wrong that Israel lacks a partner. (And by the way, it should support, not oppose, a Hamas-Fatah coalition government.) But even if you’re right on that– as the bromide goes, the outlines of a final deal are clear to everyone.

    So here’s what Israel can do right now. Declare, with metes-and-bounds clarity, the settlements it will never retreat from, with its intention to incorporate them into Israel proper. State its intention to implement its commitment to pull back from all the rest, in a manner and on a timetable at Israel’s discretion, consistent with the relocation needs of the affected citizens and West Bank security. Announce that it will never assent to a right of return, while stating a willingness to address alleged compenstion claims in negotiation with the Palestinians. Leave all other outstanding issues, including Jerusalem, sharing of natural resources, restrictions on future Palestinian security forces, trading settlement land for Arab acreage now in Israel, and the like to negotiations, which the PA is invited to enter forthwith.

    This would have a transformative effect on Israel’s relations with the outside world. Would the Arabs declare victory? Sure, but so what? The burden to bring the conflict to a true end would fall entirely on them in the court of world opinion. And Israel would solve its core problem– one that Paul Kennedy dubbed imperial overstretch. Middle imprisons himself in the flawed reasoning that Israel can’t afford to stay, but can’t afford to retreat another inch. The burden of occupation, or call it what you will, is simply too much– morally, politically, militarily. And the way out is obvious in virtually every detail.

  • Good and well thought out comment, Tom.

    A couple of points.

    First of all, my opinion is irrelevant. I’m not a politician, I don’t live in Israel and I have no influence.

    Be that as it may, I have never been an advocate of “not one inch.” Rather, I have been an advocate of Israel’s Taba deal. In that deal, the Palestinians get a state which includes 100% of Gaza, 93-97% of the West Bank, a land bridge between Gaza and the WB, 1:1 exchange of land inside Israel for the 3-7% of WB that isn’t given to “Palestine,” a “right of return” only to the New Palestine except for a small proportion of the original (1948) refugees, $30 billion in reparations assisted by the int’l community, division of Jerusalem so east Jerusalem except for Old City’s Jewish and half Armenian Quarters are in Israel hands and Temple Mount is shared.

    That’s the deal I’ve supported since it was made public. I still think it’s a good plan and a workable one, although to be honest I think the Old City in east Jerusalem should become an international protectorate with no sovereign.

    The question is: what has been learned by the Gaza disengagement experience, an action I strongly advocated? The lesson is that the Palestinians can wreak havoc with Israeli communities by keeping up low level warfare. The absence of state control means there is no formal address to which Israel can appeal for an end to the attacks. The relatively small number of rockets means a strong military reponse is typically an undesirable response. On the other hand, like all terrorism, the small number of rockets has an outsized impact on Israeli civilians. We also know that under their own authority instead of military presence by Israelis, the Palestinians tend to focus heavily on building capacity to fight Israel and not on their civilians’ civic needs.

    I will also add one more fact: Olmert and Kadima were elected on a platform of “disengaging” from the West Bank. Had the Lebanon War not damaged Olmert as badly as it did, we can assume that by now Israel would be to the west of the Security Barrier.

    Your recommendations, Tom, have been tried in Gaza. I would love to try them again and I would love to move all Israelis west of the Fence. I just don’t see how you do it without ending up with another Gaza. Even if Fatah can hold off Hamas in the short term, this won’t be permanent. All political movements have ups and downs and eventually Hamas will have its turn.

    The WB’s borders are extremely close to Israel’s key population centers so that any Qassem or Grad rockets are going to endanger almost all Israelis. You can’t prevent those rockets and they prove to be a very effective tool to apply pressure. We know from past experience that “international pressure” isn’t a tool that influences the Palestinians, that Iran has every interest of turning these areas into their frontline outposts, that no matter what the Palestinians do they receive EU and UN aid, that any defense mechanism employed by Israel leads to the same kind of PR disaster that we saw now in Gaza…and worse because it forces Israel to kill civilians.

    This means that the Palestinians have the Israelis right where they want them: a time consuming state of limbo. There is no resolution to the conflict in this ideal Palestinian scenario, Israel looks bad because there is nothing nice about having its soldiers in there, demographics change slowly in the Palestinians’ favor, the international community experiences fatigue and will accept any solution no matter how dangerous for Israel. Eventually, that solution, so hope the Palestinians, will be a single state.

    As I write and think about this, I know that what I want is a two state solution on the basis of Taba. I know that I think the settlement movement is one with which I disagree and want all settlements east of the Fence removed. I know that if I also remove the IDF from there, then there will be rockets and other attacks. I know that if the IDF stays, the Palestinians retain their limbo dream while the demographics turn in their favor. On the other hand, with the IDF there Israeli civilians are safer.

    I don’t see how, absent a Palestinian agreement to the Taba outlines – an agreement they cannot give today because Hamas controls Gaza and to even enter negotiations they demand Israel move itself back to 1949 lines – Israel has any choice but to maintain its military presence in the West Bank. Even the settlements end up serving an important role because they offer the Israelis leverage in negotiations. Without that leverage, the Israelis have nothing compelling to offer the Palestinians in any deal.

    If I were PM of Israel, I would remove the settlements anyway, but it would be with the knowledge that I have created an imperfect solution that only serves to assuage Israel’s moral jeopardy, not to eliminate and perhaps even to increase its military jeopardy.

  • uhhh, xisnotx – the vast majority of Palestinians have been living under defacto autonomy – including political autonomy – in contiguous chunks of territory. For over a decade.

    Just as I wrote.

    Why don’t you look at a map of Judea and Samaria, xis – preferably not one at a leftie/pro-Pali website. You will then see that Israeli settlements are pinpricks in a vast – and still largely unpopulated – area.

    Day-to-day Palestinian autonomy is not mutually exclusive with minor population growth of existing Israeli settlements – and everybody concedes that there has been no construction of new settlements for years.

  • tom and middle:

    The reality here in Israel has basically overtaken your concerns.

    Israelis – even those who felt we had to try the Oslo process – now feel betrayed by many of those who urged us to take risks for peace – especially by their unwillingness to call things fairly.

    There was real success in undercutting the pro-Pali media juggernaut this time around, and connecting to reasonable people. There is a feeling in Israel that the hard-core lefties and anti-Semites cannot be reached, and Israel’s survival is at stake. So enough with wanting to be liked by Europeans – who don’t seem to have any answers for their own Muslim problems.

    In this sense, the Israeli public has already passed Olmert/Livni/Peres/Barak – all of whom are stuck in the Oslo mindset. The populace and army wanted the campaign in Gaza to continue.

    I don’t agree with Tom’s assertion that the Gaza campaign proves that Israel cannot retake Pali areas – it just proves how out of touch Olmie is with a population that is already post-Oslo in its willingness to do whatever it takes to end the terrorism, even if some quarters do not like us.

    The left-wing, “occupation corrupts” sector of Israeli politics has shrunk/gone underground. They may have media access, but very little credibility.

    Every Israeli has now been exposed at least twice to maps with concentric circles showing the range of Islamic missiles on Israel’s border – first during the HezboLebanon war, and now with Gaza. ALL of them have mentally moved those concentric circles over to the West Bank area of the map – and seen that the country’s breadbasket would be subject to Kassam/Grad missiles from most of the West Bank.

    So again – reality has overtaken any talk of Israeli withdrawal.

    As the Israeli populace awakens from Oslo, people are remembering that 1967 was fought for a reason – and that now the “fedayeen” have even longer-range weapons than back then.

  • Wow is Ban-Ki Moon a tool.

    I blame South Korea for the starvation of North Korea.

  • I wouldn’t have expected such an analysis from you, Tom.

    I think I could largely go along with much of it. But it’s not clear exactly what you’re arguing from the standpoint of Middle’s devil’s advocate or based on what you would advocate.

    World opinion matters, but the degree to which it matters varies according to intensity and is not the most important thing. Nor should we assume that things Israel can or should do would yield worthwhile improvements in popular sentiment.

    As far as a settlement goes, I’m probably a bit less moderate in some regards moreso in others.

    Strategically, the best place to cede land in exchange for the retention of parts of the West Bank is probably around Gaza itself.

    Palestinians should not be allowed immigration rights to Israel en masse, but it’s fine to allow a symbolic number (of surviving refugees) and a consent to compensation for certain remainders in exchange for an end to all future claims.

    The most stable outcome for the West Bank actually involves the retention of Jewish settlers and the infrastructure they have built and become a part of. 1 – 2% minority population is a “provocation”. 10 – 20% is a moderating force for stability and pluralism.

    Now, Israel probably couldn’t endorse this openly. But it could offer settlers left behind in lands retained for the Palestinians the option of losing Israeli citizenship if they do stay. If they feel that strongly about the land, they should be allowed to stay and be a part of continuing to build a statelet that could have a much less extremist future than Gaza if these conditions hold.

    I always thought that treating WB and Gaza as a single territorial and political unit was problematic and unnecessary.

    Erdogan is a dipshit. Respecting the right of Gaza to elect Hamas does not mean we have to respect Hamas’ governing decisions – either with regard to its malevolence to Israel or with regard to its lawless coup against Fatah.

  • I’m at 46 minutes in. Good for Peres for using this charade to express his heartfelt righteous outrage after letting these obvious charlatans and novice democrats preen with pretension.

  • “This has been a powerful and passionate debate.”

    Thanks to Peres.

  • How undiplomatic and uncivilized of Erdogan at the end.

    Someone didn’t like beying upstaged!

  • Middle,

    With someone as unhinged and incapable of controlling himself as Erdogan, I think Peres had no choice but to attempt to make amends.

    I would have taken this thing more seriously had Erdogan not soiled his diapers at the end and turned it into an utter joke. I almost couldn’t even stop laughing during the closing speaker’s remarks at the spectacle from which he had just attempted to dignifiably segue. What a study in contrasts and absurdity! One of these civilizations really can’t stand not winning. But when it comes to displaying moral regard for complex human situations it shouldn’t just be about winning.

  • Oh, and thanks for posting this!

    Ok. I think I’m done.

  • I’m OK with giving the Pals $30 billion so long as the 800,000 Jews who were kicked out of the Arab countries get just compensation for the assets that were stolen from them.

    The way I see it, Israel pays the Pals $30 billion, the Arabs pay Israel about $300 billion.

    Sounds fair to me.

    And I don’t give a shit if the Euros like Israel or not. The Euros want Israel to commit suicide so their Muslims won’t kill them in their sleep. And the idea that Euro affection will help Israel when the rockets from East Jerusalem start landing in Tel Aviv is beyond naive. The only thing the Euros will do is what they did in ’48: organize a flotilla to rescue the survivors of the massacre they expected.

    Israel has to make sure that the US continues to support it. Nobody else really matters at all. With Carter…..I mean, Obama in office, this is going to be difficult, I agree, and it will take some fancy footwork. However, this will all be overshadowed very soon by the Iranian nuke issue, on which it is more than obvious that Obama is going to kneel down and kiss Chimpy McDinnerjacket’s ass.

    Jerusalem an “international city”, Middle? Are you out of your mind?

    Yes, the WB was quiet. And so was Lebanon. Why? Because Abu Mazen and Nasrallah are scared shitless.

    As they should be.

  • Watching the video, I must say that Peres’ performance was as impressive as Erdogan’s was infantile.

    Kol ha kavod.

    No apologies were required, though. Peres (and, by extension, Israel) was under no obligation to lower himself to a tool like Erdogan.

  • [i]Would the Arabs declare victory? Sure, but so what? The burden to bring the conflict to a true end would fall entirely on them in the court of world opinion.[/i]

    As others have said in this discussion, this strategy was tried already in Lebanon and Gaza. Israel left Lebanon in 2000, so if hostilities started up again after that, it would clearly be Lebanon’s fault, right? And that’s exactly what happened in 2006, but did the court of world opinion indict Hezbollah? The situation in Gaza is much the same.

    What I still don’t understand about all of this is why Erdogan would, in a matter of weeks, turn into a raving anti-Israel lunatic, destroy Israeli-Turkish relations possibly beyond repair, and throw away years of economic and political (e.g. acting as intermediary between Israel and Syria) cooperation. Is he really that insulted that Olmert wouldn’t share secrets with him during his visit a few days before Operation Cast Lead? I find that difficult to believe. It seems more likely that he sees the way the anti-Israel winds are blowing in Europe and thinks that a hardline stance is more likely to endear Turkey to European interests (and of course, getting increased support from the Muslim world doesn’t hurt?)

    In an “honest broker” role, Turkey can enjoy plenty of exclusivity — that role has a lot of value if they’re the only country in the region that can wield that sort of power and influence. It certainly seems a lot better than becoming a small fish in the radical Middle East pond.

  • Erdogan couldn’t wreck Turkish-Israeli relations if he wanted to, because he’s already on thin ice with the Turkish military.

    It’s also interesting to contrast him with Merkel and the others who went to Jerusalem to support Israel. And he and the Turks want EU membership?

    Middle, I suspect the answer to jihadist attacks from the Pali side may be some form of international security presence. Maybe– just maybe– that’s working in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah’s rearming notwithstanding. Now, there’s something for Erdogan to do– commit troops to peacekeeping under a provisional/final deal.

    Ephraim, re Abbas being ‘scared shitless’ (I figure it was an attack of common sense):

    “Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children . . . when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”

  • These actions can’t turn Israel into a pariah state. Israel already is a pariah state. An apartheid regime whi’s only friends are Neoconservatives & Christian Zionists. Israel is not an asset to the Jews right now, it is a liability.

  • Well, the good thing is that at least in choosing Davos as the forum to duke this out, a rift was created between the business people who actually give a shit about stability and the world economy, and the losers who just have a cause to cheer for while wrecking those things.

    Watch the reporting on this. Make sure to respond to articles which proclaim that the Islamist leader of Turkey was “cut off” while neglecting to mention that he was first given 14 minutes, along with the 14 minutes allotted to Amr Mousa and the 8 minutes allotted to Ban-Ki all for the purpose of first castigating Israel before Peres was allowed to respond. On al Jazeera’s site, someone comments with the profound insight that David Ignatius is Jewish, so, ipso facto, his decision to proceed with ending the discussion on time at the 1 hour mark was an act of nefarious collusion. As was, I suppose, his decision to hold Erdowan to the 1 minute he requested and wasn’t owed, that is, after both first generously granting this ad hoc request and then allowing the extension of his rant to 2 minutes. All worth mentioning given the democratic nature of the forum and the purportedly democratic nature of the country that Erdowan sees himself fit to lead.

    The other thing worth mentioning is that the Turkish translator reveals Erdowan’s wish to school Peres in scripture by repeating “Thou shalt not kill” as a self-contained line of protest all by itself. Actually, PM, the commandment is “Thou shalt not murder.” I know that such distinctions are not useful for people wishing to provide political cover for Hamas, but they are to those Jews to whom you say no ill will should be tolerated, and whose scripture you claim as the inspiration for your own.

    Ok. Now go back to being the little man of Ankara.

  • Texas is not an asset to Western civilization right now, the Jews are.

    Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

  • Machiavelli is Da Bomb.

    It would be really nice if he weren’t. But he’s right.

    Since no one, the US included, loves Israel enough to commit actual soldiers to defend her should the need arise, Israel cannot entrust her safety to anyone else. Therefore, she must be feared by those who hate her, so much so that they will not dare to attacker her, no matter how much they want to.

    It’s sad, but there it is. All the wishing and grovelling and humanitarian-corridoring-in-the-middle-of-a-war isn’t going to change it.