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The Turkish To-Do: Turkey Wins, Israel Loses

Turks credit ‘wise man’ Peres

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Peres speaks at the Copenhagen summit last month.(Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images)

The diplomatic stand-off between Israel and Turkey, which stemmed from the the Israeli deputy foreign minister’s deliberate humiliation of Turkey’s ambassador, came to a close yesterday when the Turkish prime minister accepted the deputy foreign minister’s formal apology. Where are the various parties left after this?

• WINNER: Turkey. Yes, the Arab and Muslim worlds have a new cause célèbre. But even the broader international community perceives Turkey as the victim of tactless, condescending treatment that violated the extensive decorum governing diplomatic relations. Just as importantly, the world has basically forgotten what originally started all this: a Turkish TV series that depicted Mossad agents as bloodthirsty murderers, as well as extremely questionable comments about Israel from Turkey’s leaders.

• LOSER: Israel. Its unjustified actions are noted and condemned, while its justified grievances are ignored—and unlike when that usually happens, Israel can largely blame itself. Plus, Turkey now has cover to do what it was going to do anyway: cozy up to its neighbors to the east, Syria and Iran.

• WINNER: Shimon Peres. Blessed is the peacemaker! A Turkish diplomat credited Israel’s 86-year-old president with arranging the apology that resolved the burgeoning crisis: “You’re lucky you have Peres, the wise man of the Middle East,” he said. Peres’s legacy as the last rise-above-the-fray old-line Zionist probably did not need further buffing, but in case it did, his role in this affair should do the trick.

• LOSER: Danny Ayalon. The deputy foreign minister, a former ambassador to the United States, is an ambitious politician who might have been looking to make a name for himself while Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman—his boss and the leader of his right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party—is under police investigation. Instead, Ayalon is now being roundly condemned, with Yisrael Beiteinu members asserting that his career is over and even Peres throwing him under the bus.

• WINNER: Benjamin Netanyahu. Though the prime minister hasn’t been caught on-record saying so, various hints suggest that he at least tacitly supported Ayalon’s actions. Yet Ayalon, and to some extent Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu, took the blame, while Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party look like moderates by comparison.

• WINNER AND LOSER: The United States. When Israel’s image in the Arab and Muslim world suffers, so does America’s. Additionally, it is massively in the U.S. interest for Israel and Turkey, two important strategic U.S. allies, to have a strong relationship, and this latest affair won’t help what was already a deteriorating partnership. On the other hand, this affair frankly could have gotten a whole lot worse before it got better. Yet another country owes Peres its thanks.

Israel and Turkey Patch Up Rift Over a Diplomatic Slight [NYT]
Turkish Official: Israel’s Lucky To Have Peres [Ynet]
‘Ayalon’s Political Career Is Ruined’ [JPost]
Don’t Blame Israel For Ayalon’s Error [JPost]

Earlier: Trouble With Turkey

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The Turkish To-Do: Turkey Wins, Israel Loses

Turks credit ‘wise man’ Peres

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