Apology timing related to developments in region: Israel

Apology timing related to developments in region: Israel

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Apology timing related to developments in region: Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (R) apologized in March to Turkey over the raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship. REUTERS Photo

The timing of Israel’s apology offered to Turkey earlier this year is related with regional developments as well as the composition of the coalition of Israel’s government, formed only days before the apology, said a senior Israeli diplomat.

Israel wants to exploit the potential of bilateral cooperation with Turkey, not only in trade but also in security and strategy fields, Reuven Azar, head of the Middle East Bureau Center for Policy Research at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, told Hürriyet Daily News last week.

“As the conflict in Syria escalated, we reached a common conclusion that we have to cooperate more, whether it will be in the security, intelligence or other areas, to jointly cope with threats. We find ourselves having common interests with partners. Some of these common interests haven’t been realized and that is the common interest we have with Turkey,” Azar said.

When it comes to the situation in Syria or common interest Israel has with the Gulf countries vis-a-vis Iran, some of this potential has been exploited, some of has not, he added.

“Another opportunity that we have is the fact that all this chaos happening in Syria, and in other places, is creating a sense of common thread when it comes to world terrorism,” he said.

Another opportunity is cooperation on energy with countries like Turkey, Greek Cyprus and Egypt, because of the findings in offshore Israel, Azar said reminding that the Israeli Supreme Court has recently approved the government’s decision to export 40 percent of the natural gas found offshore of Israel.

Asked if Israel’s feeling of loneliness in the region over a crisis in Syria has led the government to seek rapprochement with Turkey and therefore apologize for the Mavi Marmara killings, Azar said his country is not feeling alone, but he stressed his country’s goal to restore ties with Turkey.

“General sense within the Israeli establishment, and especially in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, is Turkey is a major player in the region, with which we have to engage. Turkey is not only a trading partner, but also a strategic partner. Many Israelis said they would like to restore that. There is a lot of sympathy towards Turkey in this country, in this government and in this building (the foreign ministry),” he said.
Concerns over support to Hamas

However, it has hesitations concerning “Turkey’s financial and logistic support to Hamas,” Azar, nonetheless, noted.

“There are many questions. Because we don’t really know what is going to be future of the Turkish approach when it comes to the area and toward Israel. One thing that is very disturbing for us is the attitude toward Hamas,” he stated, underlining that Hamas is an organization that is dedicated destruction of Israel.

“This organization is getting not only the sympathy of Turkey but also financial and logistic support from Turkey. It brings the question as to what extent you can put your eggs in the Turkish basket,” he said.
“Because, think that energy cooperation is in the common interest of Turkey and Israel, but until now we haven’t heard anything serious from the Turkish government,” Azar said.

Israel seeks to appoint an ambassador to Ankara

Israel seeks to reinstate an ambassador to Turkey as soon as possible before the concluding normalization talks, Israeli sources told Hürriyet Daily News. The Israeli government considers appointing the Head of European Division Ambassador Rephael Schutz to Turkey if both parties agree on mutual appointment. Ankara is eager with the normalization process with Israel and plans to appoint an ambassador to Tel Aviv after compensation talks for the Mavi Marmara incident is finalized.