Israelis respond to the Turkish parliament’s condemnation of U.S. peace plan

On January 28, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a peace plan entitled “Peace to Prosperity - A vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”.

Turkey’s parliament’s immediate reaction was condemnation. All five parties in the Turkish parliament signed a joint declaration condemning the U.S. President's plan that actually aims to “fulfil the aspirations of self-determination for the Palestinian people”.

"[The plan] is against U.N. decisions and the perspective of the two-state solution," the declaration said, accusing it of “seeking to turn the occupation of Palestine into annexation [by Israel]”.

Describing the peace plan as a "plan of instability and conflict," the lawmakers claimed that it “excluded Palestinians, one of the two parts of the dispute between Israel and Palestine”.

The declaration announced that Turkey would never back any initiative, "which ignores fundamental rights and freedoms of Palestinians".

The 181-page document, in which the U.S. president has presented his “vision for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians” and calls for a “realistic two-state solution”, that is, to help Palestinian-Arabs establish an independent state of their own. 

The framework of the peace plan aims to operate “as a basis for negotiations, the potential for both the Israelis and the Palestinians and the region is unlimited,” said the official website of the White House.

According to the peace plan’s political framework, “Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve a future of peace and prosperity. A realistic two-state solution will protect Israel’s security, fulfil the aspirations of self-determination for the Palestinian people, and ensure universal and respectful access to the holy sites of Jerusalem.”

In response, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas denounced the plan at U.N., calling it “an Israeli-American pre-emptive plan in order to put an end to the question of Palestine”.

poll released by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research on February 11 found that Abbas’ position had widespread support among Palestinian-Arabs, with nearly two thirds favouring “waging an armed struggle” against Israel.

Professor Hillel Frisch at the Departments of Political Studies and Middle Eastern Studies of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University gave a historical background of the Palestinians’ rejections of previous peace plans and two-state solutions:

“Condemnations are cheap and historically have come at the Palestinians' expense. The Arabs and most Muslims condemned the partition plan of 1937 (the Peel Commission), in which the Arabs were offered over 80 per cent of the land. Ten years later, in 1947, the Arabs and most of the Muslim world condemned the 1947 Partition Plan, which offered the Arab Palestinians an Arab state that contained around 40 per cent of the land. After every round of condemnation, the Palestinians lost. It looks like history is repeating itself,” Professor Frisch told Ahval.

“The Turkish parties are one more reflection that it is not only the Arab Palestinians that never lost an opportunity to miss an opportunity - their presumed allies were and are only too happy to urge them to do so,” he said.

Turkish pro-government media have chosen to portray the peace plan in an extremely negative light. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also called the peace plan an “occupation project” and added, "Jerusalem is not for sale." 

 “Turkey is dominated by an Islamist president who is deeply hostile to Israel, pro-Palestinian, and more specifically supportive of Hamas,’’ Itamar Rabinovich, Israel's former ambassador to the United States, and Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, told Ahval.

“Given the state of Turkish-US relations and given Turkey's support of the Palestinians and tense relationship with Israel, this declaration that condemns the US peace plan is not surprising,” Rabinovich said.

Major-General Gershon Hacohen, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for 42 years, told Ahval that for Jewish people, having a state in Israel is not just a “security” issue.

“This is a homeland issue for Jewish people.  When my ancestors returned to this land, which was then under the Ottoman rule, they did not come here just for ‘security’. We are not here for security only. Security is required for Jews in the Diaspora. Our main aim here is to have a Jewish homeland, our ancient homeland," Hacohen said.

General Hacohen added that he thinks the Israel-Turkey relations could be improved, noting, “I’ve visited Turkey before and received much hospitality and respect. The relations between Turkey and Israel have declined in recent years but we can build a better future based on our mutual cultural ties”.

On January 6, Israel Hayom newspaper accused the Erdoğan government for engaging in neo-Ottomanist expansionism in Israel and published some of these alleged activities in a story entitled “Erdoğan's Quiet Jihad”. 

It said, “Turkey's efforts to restore the ‘glory days’ of the Ottoman Empire extend far beyond influence-peddling in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount. Turkey is spending money in Haifa, among the Bedouin, and even in mixed Jewish-Arab cities in an attempt to increase its status and bolster the Palestinian cause.’’

“While the Turks' main focus is Jerusalem, they are active throughout the country and their interest in Jaffa and other Arab population centres goes beyond considerations of tourism or culture,” it added.

Rochel Sylvetsky, an opinion editor for Israel National News (Arutz Sheva that identifies with religious Zionism) English website, told Ahval that Erdoğan has diminished Turkey's democracy, while doing the same to its economy, and has shown that Islam and democracy seem unable to coexist.

“Relations with Israel deteriorated as Turkey developed relations with the Arab world instead of Europe and reached a low after the 2008 IDF’s Gaza operation,’’ Sylvetsky said. “Israelis, who enjoyed vacationing in Turkey in the 1990s, were shocked by the quick change to enmity as Turkish president Erdoğan publicly supported Hamas. Erdoğan’s attempts to achieve cooperation with Iran are another obstacle to accepting the US peace plan".

 

© Ahval English

 

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.