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KERİM BALCI

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KERİM BALCI
December 12, 2012, Wednesday

The change of conditions in the Middle East

The Turkish prime minister called on the state of Israel to realize that conditions in the Middle East have changed and to act accordingly. The call was made during an official visit by the president of the state of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, to the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

The visit aimed to enhance Palestine's newly gained standing at the UN of observer non-member state, and to give this new status an actual correspondence in real life.

Abbas is a clever businessman. He knows the capacity of his country and of its rival. When asked whether Palestine would use its recent right to appeal to the International Criminal Court, Abbas said that they, meaning the Palestinians, were not obsessed with carrying their grievances to international courts, and that he would prefer to focus their energy on the actualization of the two-state solution.

This means Abbas is more interested in the state of Palestine being recognized by Israel than in opening a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.

A two-state solution does not mean two states for two nations that have no international relations.  A two-state solution does not call for complete separation of the two nations. On the contrary, it means a very active Palestinian Embassy in West Jerusalem, and a very active Israeli Embassy in East Jerusalem. It means cooperation on foreign trade, water, energy and other infrastructure issues. It does not call for isolation of Israel in the international scene. It calls for a return of Israel to Middle Eastern politics.

This is what the Palestinian president is asking for.

Paradoxically, as a supporter of the Palestinian cause, Turkey is moving in the opposite direction; international isolation of the state of Israel on any front possible, legal operations against Israeli statesmen and soldiers, occasional smearing of the image of Israel and Israeli policies related to the occupation in Palestine have become tenets of the new Turkish foreign policy.

Whether the current policies and politicians of the state of Israel deserve this isolationist stand is another issue. In fact they do! They have been challenging all the internationally recognized values of self-determination and of human dignity. Israel is like a naughty boy asking for sweets when education to instill a dose of good manners is what is really needed.

The difference between Turkey and Palestine comes on this last point. It seems certain policy makers in Ankara believe that as the paternal figure of the region, Turkey has the right and duty to “give a lesson” to this naughty boy; whereas Palestine knows that what Israel needs is what it itself needs; a dialogically conditioned process of self-education for a peaceful future in which two states will have to cooperate on almost every critical issue relating to human life.

It is high time Ankara gave an ear to the Palestinian leadership on how to deal with Israel. After all, President Abbas is no longer only head of the Palestinian Authority only. He is now the president of the state of Palestine.

He deserves some respect.

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