Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

Was there a deception?

Ankara is very much angered with Israel and believes that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was not "honest" during more than five hours of official talks in Ankara with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

There is difficulty in understanding and indeed a deep disappointment with learning that Olmert Ñ who according to what has already been revealed in the Israeli media Ñ had approved the operation on the Gaza Strip back on a Dec. 18 evening during a meeting with hardliner Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv while visiting Ankara on Dec. 22, he told Turkish leaders that "I will not let a humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

There is, of course, discrepancy in between what the Israeli prime minister wanted to say and what the Turkish leaders wanted to hear. According to Israeli Ambassador Gabby Levy, Turkish leaders were very much occupied with the continued Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, they wanted Israel to allow humanitarian aid convoys to enter the Hamas-ruled enclave and Olmert promised them that "I will make every effort to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza," and because of that pledge, despite the operation was still continuing "has ordered that several border crossings into Gaza be opened for the transfer of vitally-needed goods," and allowed scores of trucks enter the area.

"Humanitarian aid has been moving into the Gaza as Olmert pledged to the Turkish leaders," the ambassador told me Monday on telephone, stressing that at Ankara talks there was no discussion at all on the upcoming Israeli operation on Gaza. Indeed, according to some unconfirmed reports earlier in December, Israel has contacted Ankara and urged its good offices to convince Hamas to extend the ceasefire, but Turkish officials balked undertaking such a role at the time.

A while later, on Dec. 15, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent a special envoy to Ankara, Azzam Najeeb Al-Ahmad Ñ who was the deputy of Hamas Premier Ismail Hanniya during the unity government. The Palestinian special envoy met with Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Foreign Policy adviser of Erdoğan and conveyed a message of Abbas to President Gül. According to Palestinian Ambassador Nabil Maarouf has said at those meetings the special envoy of Abbas requested Turkey first to convince Hamas extend the truce and prevent Israel using Hamas refusal to extend the ceasefire as a pretext to reoccupy Gaza Strip; second, to continue contributing to the reconciliation efforts between the Palestinian authority and the Hamas ruling Gaza; and third, to continue playing its facilitating role in peace efforts between Israel and Syria, as well as between Israel and Egypt.

Thus, although Ankara pretended as if it was fooled by Olmert, indeed there were appeals from both Israel and the Palestinian authority for Ankara’s good offices to help convince Hamas extend the truce and avoid a military escalation which Israel claims was required by its own self defense and even Palestinian President Abbas charges that the intransigence and refusal of Hamas to extend the truce was used by the Israelis as a pretext of the inhumane aerial bombardment of Gaze Strip.

Back to square one
Though the Gaza catastrophe could not be avoided Ñ and hopefully situation will not become even worst with an Israeli land operation Ñ but soon there will be a need for stepped up mediation efforts first for a containment of the fire and then for the extension of the truce and at a later stage for the resumption of the peacemaking efforts. Israeli Ambassador Levy was of the opinion yesterday that the halt declared in Israel-Syria mediation was a "product of the crisis atmosphere" and that he believed soon there will be resumption again. Palestinian Ambassador Maarouf was stressing that the Palestinian Authority wanted Ankara play a more active role and contribute to both Israel-Syria and Israel-Egypt pace moves. Hamas, on the other hand, has been claiming that Egypt let them down by not opening the border gates and providing humanitarian assistance in the latest crisis.

So, romanticism is good, but now it is time for realism and Turkey rather than emotional outbursts must concentrate on what it can do to contribute to the cause of peace if it really intends to be a regional powerÉ
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