Israel cautiously welcomes Turkish interest in normalization of ties

Remaining wary of Turkey’s apparent interest in restrengthening ties, Israel dismissed Erdogan’s requirements for a renewed alliance.  

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
MFA Director General Dore Gold at reopening of Israel Embassy in Cairo

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director Dore Gold at reopening of Israeli Embassy in Cairo. (MFA)

Israel cautiously welcomed a signal by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of a possible warming of relations with Israel.

“Israel has always aspired to stable relations with Turkey and is constantly examining the ways to achieve that goal,” Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold stated on Monday in response to Erdogan’s remark that “there is so much the region could gain from such a normalization process [with Israel].”

Erdogan said such a process would be possible if Israel and Turkey could reach a compensation deal for the Mavi Marmara raid’s victims and if Israel lifted a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

In May 2010, the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, from the so called “Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” was boarded by Israeli Navy commandos in order to force the ship to sail into the port of Ashdod and away from Gaza, in compliance with Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled enclave. The ship’s passengers assaulted the IDF soldiers with metal bars and knives, and nine of the anti-Israel activists were killed in the struggle; many others were wounded. Ten Israeli Navy commandos were injured as well, one seriously.

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Discussions on an agreement for a compensation package have already been conducted, whereas a lifting the blockade on Gaza, which would bring an influx of weapons to the Hamas terror organization, is out of the question for Israel.

Speaking off the record, Israel officials were less enthusiastic about Erdogan’s statement.

“The ball is in their court,” officials told Israel’s Ynet. “We apologized and were ready to pay compensations. He should stop talking nonsense about the removal of the Gaza siege, because Turkey knows that there is no such thing, and we are not about to pay more for normalization.”

Turkey may be seeking a renewed alliance with Israel in wake of the tensions it is facing with Russia and in hope of striking a deal to acquire Israeli natural gas, which it badly needs, and especially as it stands to lose its supply from Russia.