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Turkey’s Endrogen Walks Out of Davos Panel


Resisting efforts by Mr. Ignatius to end the session, Mr. Erdogan continued, saying to Mr. Peres, “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.” – New York Times

Even at Davos, moderating a panel on Gaza can be diplomatically dangerous. David Ignatius might just have caused an international incident between Israel and Turkey, the last thing we need on the cusp of new diplomatic push in the Middle East.

During a heated panel at Davos, Peres was given the last word, when Erdogan took exception, began speaking after time was called, then walked out. The walk out wasn’t because of Peres, but a reaction to what he felt was the lack of even handedness by Ignatius in steering the panel. One hour times limits are strict, evidently, which is just silly when you’ve got Gaza, Turkey and Israel colliding in a debate that could have real ramifications.

In a news conference immediately after the panel discussion, Mr. Erdogan said he was particularly upset with Mr. Ignatius, who he said had failed to direct a balanced and impartial panel.

By all accounts, the discussion of the Gaza offensive was lively, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations and Amr Moussa, the Arab League’s secretary general, joining Mr. Peres and Mr. Erdogan. Participants said Mr. Peres was mostly alone in defending Israel’s role in Gaza, and for that reason he was given the final 25 minutes to speak. Earlier, Mr. Erdogan spoke for 12 minutes about the Palestinians’ sufferings.

Not being there it’s hard to judge, but the Times’ report about Peres getting “the final 25 minutes to speak,” which meant getting the last word, obviously lit the fuse.

Israel needs Turkey, who has been very helpful with negotiations, so we’ll have to see how this shakes out, but the comforting aspect is that Erdogan’s ire over the panel is directed at the American, not the Israeli.

In Haaretz, Erdogan makes the point that his fury over Gaza isn’t directed at Jews, but the Israeli government. Jerusalem Post has a quote from Hamas hailing Erdogan.

While back in Turkey Erdogan was greeted as the conquering hero.

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