Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers

Five years ago, Turkey was hoping to mediate between Israel and Syria – an effort which everyone adored but this columnist likened to any possible Greek mediation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Half a decade later and after various shades of warfare with both Israel and Syria, Turkey hopes to mediate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority – an effort which no one adores and this columnist still likens to any possible Greek mediation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The Turkish willingness and readiness to take a leading (or any) role in the Arab-Israeli conflict (like in any other conflict anywhere in the world or out there in space) is an open secret. But most recently, Israeli International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz dismissed the idea despite the theoretical Turkish-Israeli détente. That was hardly surprising.

And Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki agrees more with Steinitz than with anyone occupying any powerful seat in any grey building in Ankara. Al-Malki has said that Turkish mediation between Israel and Palestine was not likely to be helpful because Turkey had not yet renewed strategic relations with Israel. Hence, al-Malki said, the Palestinian Authority would prefer the Quartet to continue mediating. Islamist Arabs are free to think that the Palestinian foreign minister is a Zionist.

And Turkish Islamists can always accuse al-Malki of being a crypto-Kemalist/Zionist. But facts are facts.

Washington may believe that prime ministers Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Benjamin Netanyahu finally shook hands over a telephone line, but that handshake is only as real as a literal handshake could be over a phone line. On the weekend, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu outlined further steps Israel needed to take in order to restore full diplomatic ties, including a complete lifting of economic restrictions on the Gaza Strip. According to Davutoğlu, “all [Israeli] embargoes [on Gaza] should be eliminated once and for all.” We can’t know if Davutoğlu literally means “all embargoes” when he says “all embargoes.”

No more restrictions on imports of weapons? Rockets? Material for innocent, home-made Katyushas? There will be plenty of time before President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will be able to see the real face of Turkish triumphalism over the Israeli apology and, subsequently, the forced and fake détente. Erdoğan does not hide the fact that he accepts Israel’s right to exist “only within the pre-1967 borders,” a view which Mssrs. Obama and Kerry may or may not be shyly sharing. If they do, they can always turn the Quartet into a Quintet consisting of a quartet plus a belly dancer. The trouble is, the belly dancer may be secretly hoping to push Israel into its pre-1948 borders.

We all know that the Americans are hoping for a miracle – in which the mildly-Islamist Erdoğan should be able to persuade the not-so-mildly-Islamist Hamas to metamorphose into an entity living in the realm of reason. For that mission to be accomplished, perhaps the Americans must first find someone who should be able to persuade Erdoğan to metamorphose into a political figure living in the realm of reason.

Otherwise, we all know that blessed are the peacemakers. But is there not any biblical reference to fake peacemakers?