Israel falls short of meeting Turkey’s preconditions

Israel falls short of meeting Turkey’s preconditions

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey had a new round of talks with Israel through diplomatic channels to revive bilateral ties but normalization of ties is not possible until Ankara’s conditions are met, the Turkish foreign minister has said.

However, Israel fell short in a meeting last week in Geneva between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy, Joseph Ciechanover, and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News.

As Turkey demanded an “apology” from Israel over the killing of nine Turkish citizens in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, Tel Aviv could only offer “expressing sorrow” in the latest talks between the parties in 2011.

The deal had fallen as Netanyahu could not give consent to Turkey’s preconditions in talks in 2011. Upon consistent calls from the Israeli administration to restore relations, Ankara refused unless its conditions of apology and compensation for victims were met. Moreover, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan voiced another condition of normalization, that Israel should lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The U.S. administration has put pressure on both sides to restore bilateral ties, as the changing dynamics in the region leave Israel isolated. Moreover, the Israeli government is also under pressure for its public image to normalize relations with the former ally.

Israeli daily Haaretz revealed on Nov. 24 that Turkey and Israel had resumed talks on ending the crisis in relations between the two countries.

In a televised interview yesterday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu confirmed a meeting had taken place before the outbreak of the violence in Gaza, but added it was not “a meeting of dialogue.”

He said the request for the meeting had come from the Israeli side and Turkey was ready to talk if Israel was ready to meet Ankara’s demands. Davutoğlu asserted that the Turkish position regarding any reconciliation with Israel was clear, and Turkey’s demands were not open to any negotiation. He also confirmed that Turkish intelligence officials were in contact with their Israeli counterparts in Cairo last week as part of efforts to bring a halt to the recent violence in the Gaza Strip.