MIDEAST > Israel seeks formula to mend Turkish ties

JERUSALEM - Hürriyet Daily News

Turkey and Israel are searching for ways to resume normality in the ties, which is crucial for both themselves and the region, says Israeli PM Netanyahu. The Mavi Marmara attack, which ceased the ties between two countries, is a traumatic experience for Israel as well because ‘our soldiers were also about to be killed,’ an official says

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‘Both Israel and Turkey should do as much as they can to restore their relationship,’ Netanyahu says. EPA photo

‘Both Israel and Turkey should do as much as they can to restore their relationship,’ Netanyahu says. EPA photo

Cihan Çelik Cihan Çelik cihan.celik@hurriyet.com.tr

Senior Israeli officials are seeking “a magical formula” that will preserve the national pride of both Turkey and Israel, while allowing the former allies to restore their ties amid current diplomatic friction.
“However, we have not been able to find it yet, and we are open to suggestions from anyone,” a senior Israeli official said.

Describing Turkey and Israel as “stable and important countries in an unstable region,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Turkey and Israel were searching for ways to resume normality in the ties, as this was crucial for both themselves and the region.

“Since I believe in a common interest, both Israel and Turkey should do as much as they can to restore their relationship,” Netanyahu said during a rare meeting with a group of Turkish journalists at his office in Jerusalem on July 23. “We would like to restore our relations again and both countries are looking for opportunities to do so.”

The relationship between the two hit a historic low after Israel’s deadly May 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla aid ship that killed eight Turkish and one U.S. citizen of Turkish origin.

The attack was the climax in a two-year long saga of rising tensions between Turkey and Israel, during which the former’s prime minister walked out of the Davos Economic Forum in protest at the latter’s president. The chill in ties has continued due to Turkish demands for an official apology from Israel for the Mavi Marmara attack and compensation for the raid’s victims.

Turkey and Israel have pursued contacts in order to find a solution to their problems in the past, the official said, adding that these efforts had never ceased and that the two countries still had channels open for negotiations. The Mavi Marmara attack was a traumatic experience not only for Turkey but for Israel as well, the senior official said.

“[This is] because our soldiers were also about to be killed,” he said, adding that it was even more difficult to reach a solution because two countries were traumatized by the incident, instead of just one.

Chill need not be permanent

The chill between Turkey and Israel should not necessarily be permanent, the official said. Despite the ongoing crisis, the two countries have shown their goodwill in dire situations, said the official, noting that Ankara sent planes to Israel in its fight against a huge fire and, in return, that Israel delivered humanitarian relief to the victims of a deadly earthquake in Turkey.

“These issues were sensitive for public opinion in both Turkey and Israel,” he said. According to the same official, the recent developments in the Middle East might bring Israel and Turkey closer since the two nations have common interests in the region.

For instance, both Turkey and Israel have problems with the regime in Syria, the official said. “What is happening in Syria is a tragedy, and greater tragedy is imminent. Every other day many, many innocent people are being killed. Both Turkey and Israel have close ties with the United States, and each of us shares important information about Syria with the Americans. We share the same concern of the possibility of chemical weapons falling into irresponsible hands,” he said.

The official said Israel’s greatest concern was not the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but the fate of chemical weapons after the regime collapses and instability spreads.

“Chemical weapons in the hands of groups such as Hezbollah and al-Qaeda is the greatest concern for Israel,” he said, adding that there needed to be a “transitional period without any ruler” during which such weapons are secured in Syria.


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Notice on comments

Cy Samuels

8/3/2012 7:01:02 AM

@Thessalonian, you never miss an opportunity to bash Turkey at the slightest oportunity. In this case you are confusing the suffering imposed on Palestinian people, under the pretenses of Israeli security. For instance take the case of an Palestinian Family going to the beach, being shelled by an israeli Gunboat and killing a 12 year old girl. The Captain of the Gunboat dismissed the incident by stating: "Oh yes,there were reports of terrorist activity in the vicinity!" Can you, ever be evenhand

Cy Samuels

7/30/2012 8:27:35 AM

What was or was not is in the past, presently Netanyahu & lieberman are competing for PM office in Israel, concluding mucked-up relationship with Turkey, will give them astatus of Statemanship. They must come to realization that Turkey is not USA, that Israeli claim to own it. Should Israel be able to repair relations with Turkey, it will be on EQUAL Basis, Israel will have to regain it Concience, stop acting like a Schoolyard Bully in the neughbourhood, start with an apology and pay compensatio

Morse Fan

7/26/2012 6:56:11 AM

I agree with those who say this isn't really about Mavi Marmara. I think it's about respect. Israel has been disrespectful to Turkey too much in the past. It was appropriate to make that clear. But, while no one can know what will happen in the future, Israel does seem to be trying very hard now to show they intend that to change. Maybe also, to be fair, sometimes they were/are misinterpreted. But there has to be the possibility of redemption. There does seem to be humility.

Mark Tak

7/25/2012 10:42:00 PM

Tessolonian the Greek who is Israel's new found friend who was the old foe whom killed all the Jews in WWII only 10.000 surivied in Selonika one was my family is now are the best friends , Turks who saved 1000's of Jews from Greece

Tekion Particle

7/25/2012 9:25:19 PM

@Thessalonian, you have to be a planted pundit here. You say such outrageous things and your comments get published regardless. I say anything out of order mine does not. It was in international waters where no one has jurisdiction, what empowered Israelis to murder people in international waters. They could easily have been tourist heading for Egypt for a party. Israel is treating the Palestinians almost as bad as Hitler treated Jews. Shouldn't they be wiser with Palestinians.

US Observer

7/25/2012 9:02:51 PM

@ down under - What makes you think they were " humanitarian activists "? Were there not reports of ties with terroists groups by this bunch? Point is, everyone here is speculating they know what happened on the ship and these were some peace sign people on board. I doubt that very much and tend to see the whole thing as staged and planned. Had they not announced their intentions and provoked the response prior to sailing, I may be inclined to see your point of view.

cloud chaser

7/25/2012 7:09:11 PM

Why does everyone keeps bringing the mavi marmara incident as the cause of the rift? The AKP at that time was already at odds with Israel, due, amongst other things, to it's desire to tighten relations with Syria and Iran. That plan had backfired, yet still they would blame Israel for their mistakes. The Marmara was not a humanitarian vessel - it had virtually no humanitarian supplies for Gaza, and the stated claims of it's passengers was to harm Israel, NOT to aid Palestinians.

ilker avni

7/25/2012 7:03:11 PM

The frendly relations between Turkey and israel ended when Olmert bombed Syria, while peace talks were ongoing and Turkey acted the go between,Olmert left egg on the face of prime mister Erdogan and his honest role as the peace maker.The incident in Davos,the attack on Gaza and fineally the floatilla incident showed that Israel does not want peace,Lieberman was qoated as saying Israel does not need peace with Palenstinians and can with stand a war for upto ten years.Israel loves wars.


7/25/2012 6:35:58 PM

Israel should not and will not apologize for killing those who attempted to violate the legal Gaza blockade. The only means of preventing Iranian weapons intended to kill Israeli civillians. Another reason among the reasons no to do so, is the fact that Mr. Erdogan, who calls the PKK terrorists, is in solidarity with Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group which aims to exterminate every single Jew in the Middle East. Turkey is the one who owes apologies and not Israel. Regards

stella maris

7/25/2012 5:54:25 PM

@ Nikos, spot on! Countries denouncing Human rights violations having themselves one of the worst HR records around and having accepted the "Gaddafi Award for Human Rights", how ridiculous! Calling other people liars and having a government which lies without shame if it suits the occasion. Time SUAT that Turkey elects new leaders!
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