War in Gaza and a Rift Between Turkey and Israel at the World Economic Forum
This is the complete video of a now much discussed panel from the 29 January 2009 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The heated debate signals some of Turkey’s growing frustration toward Israel. Turkey has effectively been a key ally to Israel, providing political and military support, and helping legitimise Israeli policy in the region. Recently, Turkey has tried to mediate a formal peace between Syria and Israel, a further attempt to normalise relations between Israel and its neighbours.
The topic of the panel is the Israeli invasion of Gaza and the prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine. The panelists in attendance were Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Israeli President Shimon Peres, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, and General Secretary of the Arab League Amr Moussa, with Washington Post journalist David Ignatius as moderator.
The panel resulted in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan leaving in protest to Israeli action in Gaza, as well as in protest to what he described as a discrepancy in time allotted for him to speak. As the Prime Minister was leaving, General Secretary Amr Moussa shakes hands with him and is then seen standing with what appears to be indecision on whether he should also walk out. However, Amr Moussa appears convinced to sit after the UN General Secretary signals for him to rejoin the group.
Erdoğan seemed softened, not directly ruling out coming back to Davos. He said that his reaction had been not to Israel or Davos, but to the unfair moderation of the panel. He added that Peres’ style of speaking had been incompatible with an international panel.
On Friday early morning, Shimon Peres called Erdoğan and apologised for his raised voice, explaining that he was hard of hearing. The two agreed that cooperation between the two countries would continue.
Erdoğan’s reaction has to be seen not only in the light of the panel, but also in the context of failed negotiations between Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Hamas. Turkey had taken a leading role in talks prior to the Gaza attacks.
Below is a video of a press conference given by Prime Minster Erdoğan following the panel, downplaying his walking out of the meeting. It is both in Turkish and English.