Report: Israel reaches out to Turkey for improved relations

Senior Israeli diplomat Dore Gold says Turkey and Israel face common enemies in Middle East, have a chance to improve relations under current conditions

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold has announced Turkey and his country could revive bilateral relations which had deteriorated in recent years, stating that both countries currently face common enemies in the Middle East.

“The threats that Israel faces are the threats that Turkey faces - in particular the threats of ISIS and above all the threat of Iran,” Reuters reported Gold saying on Tuesday.

"Iran is active in trying to undermine Turkey and hopefully we can find an agreed path to putting our disagreements behind us,” he added, speaking to reporters.

The Israeli government has declared its bitterness over the decision of Iran and the P5+1 countries [China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and plus Germany] to sign a nuclear agreement in mid-July aiming to curb Tehran’s efforts to build a bomb in return for sanctions relief for the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the completion of the nuclear deal as a “historic mistake.” He said that an accord with Iran will allow it "to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region."

However, Turkey’s incumbent Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have consistently favoured the lifting of international sanctions imposed on Iran and put efforts to find common ground between Iran and major world powers.

Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that, “We celebrate the sides for their efforts which make the deal possible, and give importance that the agreement could be executed with all the components,” following the announcement of the nuclear deal.

Gold also commented on present Turkish-Israeli relations saying that, ”There is an effort by both sides to see whether we can move forward, how do you say, to turn over a new leaf and see whether we can improve our relations.”  

The Turkish Foreign Ministry recently confirmed Israeli media outlet Haaretz’s claims of a secret meeting in late June in the Italian capital Rome between Gold and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu in order to resume talks for a reconciliation agreement.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic previously stated that there have been talks between Israel and Turkey for the sake of normalising relations, and Israel has already known the Turkish stance which is as clear as possible concerning ties.

“It is Israel’s turn to make a stride and normalisation is a process which will only be realised when Israel takes necessary steps,” Bilgic said.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Israel has met one of the three demands to normalise relations between the two countries, which was an official apology by Israel for killing Turkish citizens during the Mavi Marmara incident.

The other two demands which were compensation to the families of Mavi Marmara victims who were killed by Israeli Defense Forces in international waters in the summer of 2010 and removal of the blockade on Gaza, Cavusoglu added.   

The media also reported that Gold previously spoke with Enver Eski, who is an adviser to the Saudi Arabian government, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel. There have been claims that Gold’s moves indicate Israel is trying to create a geopolitical bloc with the participation of Saudi Arabia and Turkey against Iran.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have worsened since 2009, when then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now Turkey’s president, chided Israel’s then-President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, over Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Ties degraded even further following the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara, one of the six civilian ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

Nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara in a bungled raid, and a tenth activist later died from heavy wounds.

The flotilla was set up by an international coalition called the Free Gaza Movement, which included the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and the IHH. Its aim was to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, which was strengthened in 2007 when Hamas took over Gaza.

The maritime raid drew widespread condemnation internationally, and Turkey demanded an official apology and compensation for the relatives of the Mavi Marmara victims.

The Israeli government, following a telephone conversation between Netanyahu and Erdogan, apologised to Turkey in March 2013. The Israelis also offered $20 million in compensation for the attack and eased its blockade on the Gaza Strip following the incident.

The two countries seemed to be warming up again in February 2014, with talk of a reconciliation agreement to pay reparations to the victims of the Mavi Marmara incident.

Several months later, Israeli-Turkish ties took another turn for the worse following Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” assault on Gaza, which continued for seven weeks, starting on July 8, 2014.

TRTWorld and agencies