This blog has been arguing for several months of the necessity of engaging Turkey in the Palestinian-Israel conflict and the Syrian dispute with Israel. Unlike Bush and Condi Rice, Turkish diplomats do not bring to the bargaining table the baggage of one sided support for Israel. Involvement of Turkey removes from Hamas or Syrian leaders the ability to argue that mediation is being conducted by a western power with strong ties to Israel. According to a report in al-Hayat, “Ankara would like like both(Syria and Israel) sides to commit to a signed declaration as a starting point for talks.” Both have to be willing to accept the concept of compromise which means something must be given up in order to attain peace.
Moshe Ma’oz, professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at Hebrew University, points out that not only does turkey have good relations with both sides, but it also has hundreds of years of historical connection to the region. “Unlike the United States, Turkey has a connection to the region because of its historical ties. Turkey can play a constructive role.”
On the other hand, Zvi Bar’l writing in Haaretz, believes Prime Minister Olmert is hampered in negotiating because of impending charges against him for corruption and he fears taking a bold step while in this weakened postion. Middle Eastern expert Ehud Ya’an, says Turkey’s weak point is not being able to offer military security to ensure an agreement is fulfilled by both sides. However, he does believe Turkey can play a key role if both sides seek genuine mediation.