NICOSIA -- At first glance, Cyprus might seem a likely friend for Israel in a hostile region. An eastern Mediterranean island just 105 km from Syria, the Republic of Cyprus is a democracy with a free press, thriving banking and shipping industries, and a per capita gross domestic product of $16,000, approaching that of Israel.

But Cyprus is also divided -- 35 percent of the island is occupied by Turkey, which periodically sends its fighter jets into Greek Cypriot airspace. This colors Cyprus' views of the conflict simmering elsewhere in the Levant. Many Cypriots conflate the Palestinian struggle with their own troubles as a small nation illegally dominated by a powerful neighbor.

Comparisons of northern Cyprus on the one hand and the West Bank and Gaza on the other are, of course, flawed: Unlike Turkey, Israel has seriously negotiated to divest itself of its territories, and Greek Cypriots have never cultivated a homicide-suicide cult that celebrates the murder of Turkish infants in pizzerias. Likewise, Turkey need not fear for its national survival were it to pull out of Cyprus.