by RAY FLEMING
CALM debate and mutual respect are the norm for the World Economic Forum at Davos. The shouting and walk-out at the close of a discussion on Gaza and Middle East peace prospects on Thursday certainly went against the trend but it is not unreasonable to ask what the Forum organisers were thinking about by putting the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, together at the same table. It was only two weeks ago, after Israel's invasion of Gaza, that Mr Erdogan asked, rhetorically, “How is such a country as Israel, which totally ignores and does not implement resolutions of the United Nations, allowed to enter the gates of the UN?” A good question, perhaps, but not one likely to create a warm atmosphere between leaders of the two countries.

Afterwards it was said that Mr Erdogan's walk-out was mainly in protest at being allowed only half the time given to Mr Peres to make his case. But there is a serious side to the incident. For some months Turkey has been acting as an intermediary between Israel and Syria in talks about the long lasting dispute over Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights. It was being said that Turkey was Israel's only friend in the Islamic world but the Gaza war and Mr Erdogan's earlier comment about Israel and the UN suggests that it is no longer true.