Normally, I would say that Prime Ministers should hold themselves up to a higher standard of conduct. But the fact that it was the Turkish Prime Minister who acted this way makes me think twice before saying anything of the sort. Turkey, after all, has long had a peaceful relationship with Israel - in fact, it has perhaps been the friendliest Middle Eastern neighbor to Tel Aviv.
On March 28, 1949, the Republic of Turkey became the first Middle Eastern country to recognize Israel. Since then, the two countries have cooperated militarily, politically and economically, and they became trade partners due to their geographic proximity and friendly ties. In addition to all this, Turkey has been a driving force for peace between Israel and many states in the Arab world. Most significantly, it was conducting indirect peace negotiations between Israel and Syria, two countries that have been on a collision course for decades.
The fact that this longstanding Israeli ally is outraged by Israel's operations in Gaza, and the Israeli Prime Minister's subsequent justification of his country's actions, is perhaps a reflection of the world's growing impatience with Israel's conduct in the Palestinian territories. For 60 years now, Israel has violated all forms of international law in its occupation of Palestine, from expansion through the creation of illegal settlements, to the subjugation of Palestinians to what some have called apartheid-like policies. And the loss of life witnessed under the Israeli occupation is a whole other issue in and of itself.
Last month's attack on Gaza reminded the world of the violence and death that have resulted since Israel's creation in 1948. Six decades on, it seems that people are beginning to say enough is enough. The Palestine/Israel Question must be answered, and soon. Before any more lives are lost. Justifying an attack like the one on Gaza does not get us anywhere closer to a solution, and that seems to be the message Prime Minister Erdogan hoped to send through his decision to leave Davos.
It seems like many of us across the world have listened up. Let's hope that the Turkish Prime Minister's message will be taken to heart by those who are in the position to change the course of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Only then can this period of bloodshed come to an end.
Read the transcript of the interview here, and watch the video of Erdogan's comments just before leaving the Davos interview below:
Some reactions to Erdogan's move:
- Mixed reactions to Erdogan's Davos showdown - Sunday's Zaman
- Erdogan hailed as 'new world leader' after Davos walkout - EurActive.com
- EGYPT: Erdogan hailed as a hero - Babylon and Beyond (LA Times Blog)