For all the diplomatic fallout of the Gaza War, the deterioration in Israeli-Turkish relations might be the most alarming. This YouTube video of the Davos Forum where Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed off the stage (at the 1:01:30 mark) after not being permitted to respond to Israeli President Shimon Peres’ remarks, is stunning. Peres’ remarks, too, are remarkable for their passion at a forum that is known for its collegial calm. (They begin at the 39:30 mark.) Notice, too, the body language of Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa during Peres’ remarks.
Erdogan’s anger was directed at panel moderator David Ignatiius for not allowing him to finish his remarks, even if it was the bitter difference of opinion on Gaza that was the subject of discussion. But it’s clear there is a real personal reaction here, one that transcends diplomacy, even if it will inevitably have consequences on the diplomatic level, not helped by what the Times is calling a “hero’s welcome” for Erdogan back home in Turkey.
The risk President Obama took in engaging in the Israeli-Palestinian immediately was that the wreckage of Gaza has yet to be cleared, in literal and figurative terms. I think the stakes made it worth the risk. But this is an illustration of the surprises that are still waiting to be uncovered.