Israeli president thanks Erdoğan in phone call
AP photoIsraeli President Reuven Rivlin has called his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to express his gratitude regarding the latter’s message expressing his condolences for the three Israeli citizens killed in the March 19 suicide bombing attack in Istanbul.
Rivlin called Erdoğan, who had sent a telegram of condolences, on March 22, according to Turkish presidential sources.
He thanked Erdoğan for the repatriation of the three Israeli citizens who died in the attack on Istanbul’s busy İstiklal Avenue, during which an Iranian and the bomber himself were also killed.
The attention given to the treatment of the wounded Israelis and their repatriation home was also a topic for which Rivlin expressed his gratitude to Erdoğan.
Rivlin condemned the latest terror attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, which occurred just six days apart and led to the deaths of more than 40 people.
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 the 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 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.
Turkey has repeatedly insisted on three conditions for normalization: the lifting of the Gaza blockade, compensation for the Mavi Marmara victims and an apology for the incident.
Israel has already apologized and negotiations appear to have made progress on compensation for the victims of the Mavi Marmara raid. This leaves Israel’s blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip as the main hurdle.
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 perpetrated by ISIL.
During his visit, Gold, thanked the Turkish government for what it did in the aftermath of the Istanbul attack and underlined the need for an alliance in the fight against terror.