We were intrigued by the pomp and circumstance that attended Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s welcome of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Ankara last week. The visit took place a few days after Turkey and Israel announced a full upgrade of diplomatic ties; no doubt it was an attempt by Erdogan to reassure the leader of the PA that Turkey was not abandoning the Palestinians.
As reported by The Times of Israel, Erdogan said during a joint appearance with Abbas that “the steps taken in our relations with Israel will in no way diminish our support for the Palestinian cause.”
In fact, said Erdogan, the renewed relations would be to the benefit of his Palestinian “brothers,” enabling Turkey to utilize renewed diplomatic channels to advocate for a “solution to the Palestinian issue and improve the situation of the Palestinian people.”
“Turkey defends its vision of a two state solution,” he said, “and we have clearly demonstrated our response to the Israeli attacks and civilian casualties.”
For his part, without referencing the renewed relationship between Israel and Turkey, Abbas thanked Erdogan for his country’s past support, adding: “We know that Turkey and its institutions stand by the Palestinian people and the Palestinian state in every field, and support them in the international arena.”
That sounds good, but in reality Abbas understood that Turkey made a judgment call: normalization with Israel makes sense for Turkey, and that trumps the Palestinian loss of leverage in getting Israel to agree to a Palestinian state. Abbas had no choice in the matter.
But what is down the road? What comes after there is more and more economic integration between Israel and its neighbors – neighbors who, if they had their druthers, would doubtless like to see the establishment of the Palestinian state. Would they try to exploit economic leverage with Israel to get the Palestinians what they want? Will they be in a position to make Israel an offer it cannot refuse?
Is that eventuality already in process?
We believe in a state of Israel which includes Judea and Samaria, with a united Jerusalem as its capital. While the geopolitical threat to that objective may have receded, a more insidious one may be in play.