Israeli PM ‘hopes to normalize ties’ with Turkey in upcoming meet
REUTERS photoIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on March 23 that he was hopeful that upcoming negotiations between Israel and Turkey “will produce positive results” and enable the renewal of relations between the two countries.
“We have always wanted correct relations with Turkey and it wasn’t us who changed the direction of the relations,” Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Netanyahu as telling a press conference. “If possible, we would like to normalize the ties.”
Netanyahu spoke several hours after President Reuven Rivlin held a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, during which the former thanked the latter for the repatriation of the three Israeli citizens who died in an attack on Istanbul’s busy İstiklal Avenue.
The relationship between Turkey and Israel was severely strained after the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara vessel was raided by Israeli commandos in 2010, killing nine Turkish and one Turkish-American citizen on board.
The two countries have stepped up efforts in recent months to restore the relationship between the two countries, for which efforts at the undersecretary-level have taken place.
Teams from the two countries are due to resume negotiations in early April.
Three Israeli citizens, identified as 60-year-old Simha Simon Demri, 40-year-old Yonathan Suher and 70-year-old Avaham Godman, along with an Iranian, 31-year-old Ali Rıza Khalman, were killed in a suicide bomb attack on March 19. Turkish police identified the perpetrator as 24-year-old Mehmet Öztürk, who had links with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, came to Turkey on March 20 to hold talks with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Istanbul Gov. Vasip Şahin about the terrorist attack.
During his visit, Gold thanked the Turkish government for its efforts in the aftermath of the Istanbul attack and underlined the need for an alliance in the fight against terror.
During the press conference, Netanyahu drew a comparison between the ISIL terror attacks in Istanbul and Brussels and Palestinian attacks in Israel.
He stated that he had told Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and European Union Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini that terror must be denounced and fought wherever it occurs, and that terrorists must be deprived of hope.