The Turkish government is expecting an invitation to next week’s meeting in Annapolis to discuss the Middle East, with particular attention to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. A top Turkish diplomat noted, “We have made it clear to the U.S. and other concerned parties that broader participation in the conference is essential if they want more legitimate ground for future talks.” Last week, Turkey hosted a meeting between President Peres of Israel and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. Turkey has extremely close working relations with Israel and is probably the major Muslim nation with whom the Israel government feels confident it can secure honest cooperation. As a diplomat noted, “Both of us should see the fact that Turkey and Israel need each other for regional stability.”
An interesting follow up from the Annapolis conference might be to ask Turkey to serve as the host center for future Israel and Palestinian discussions. The Muslim Justice and Development Party of Turkey is anxious to foster stability in the Middle East and the Turkish army has close working relations with its Israel counterparts. If a future agreement necessitates placing foreign troops in certain areas to secure peace, the Turkish army would be the logical choice since it is trusted by Israel military leaders. Perhaps, it is time for the United States to step away from serving as a mediator between Israel and Palestine and allow the Turkish Muslim leadership to assume that role.