Gul: New generation of Arabs wants democracy
Turkish President Abdullah Gul wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times saying his country is interested in returning to its former role as mediator of Mideast peace talks – between Israel and the Palestinians, and the entire Arab world.
Taking into account demographics and recent turmoil in the region, Gul says the Middle East will soon be democratic and every state must therefore take into account the wishes of its people.
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"The new generation of Arabs is much more conscious of democracy, freedom and national dignity," he wrote in the piece published Thursday.
"In such a context, Israel cannot afford to be perceived as an apartheid island surrounded by an Arab sea of anger and hostility."
Gul believes a Palestinian state will strengthen Israel, and says Turkey will do all it can to assist negotiations.
The article, entitled "The Revolution's Missing Peace", says Israel is instrumental in leading the Arab countries around it towards democracy following the uprisings.
"Israel, more than any other country, will need to adapt to the new political climate in the region. But it need not fear; the emergence of a democratic neighborhood around Israel is the ultimate assurance of the country’s security," Gul writes.
He also calls on Israeli leaders "to approach the peace process with a strategic mindset, rather than resorting to short-sighted tactical maneuvers".
For Gul, this means "seriously considering the Arab League's 2002 peace initiative, which proposed a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders and fully normalized diplomatic relations with Arab states".
The US, Gul says, must adopt a more impartial outlook when mediating the peace talks. "The United States has a long-overdue responsibility to side with international law and fairness when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process," he writes.
Turkey abandoned its role as mediator for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians after Operation Cast Lead, after heaping criticism on the state for its incursion into the Gaza Strip.
But now, Gul says, "It will be almost impossible for Israel to deal with the emerging democratic and demographic currents in the absence of a peace agreement with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world. Turkey, conscious of its own responsibility, stands ready to help."
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