THERE are five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States of America. Among their responsibilities is that of ensuring that the Charter of the UN is upheld by all members of the world body. Why then does it fall to a less senior UN member, Turkey, to ask a question that millions of people in the world would like to hear answered? The question, posed last week by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey, is this: “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 United Nations?”. Mr Erdogan was calling for a boycott on Israel's membership of the UN. His intervention is the more important because until very recently Turkey has been Israel's strongest Muslim ally and has acted as an intermediary in negotiations between Israel and Syria.

It is a feature of Israel's defensive political tactics to act as if it has no black mark against it for past misdemeanours and to position itself as the innocent party in each and every dispute. In fact, however, from the very way in which the Israeli state was created and in many subsequent actions which have been formally criticised by the United Nations and other international bodies, Israel has “form” which necessarily must be taken into account when something as serious as the Gaza incursion has to be judged. Mr Erdogan deserves an answer.


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