Israeli deputy PM: Turkey is becoming superpower in its region

June 20, 2012, Wednesday/ 15:14:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Tuesday that everyone must understand that Turkey is becoming a superpower in its region, adding that Turkey and Israel should work to regain their former strategic relations.

“Including Israel, everyone needs to understand that Turkey is becoming a superpower. I consider Turkey a superpower in our region, a fact about which there is no doubt,” said the senior Israeli minister and head of the Kadima Party in Israel, at a conference at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington-based think tank.

When asked whether there was hope from the Israeli side on the improvement of the relations between Turkey and Israel, Mofaz replied that relations with Turkey were of great importance to Israel. “Turkey and Israel should leave the past behind and look to the future,” he stated.

Touching on the necessity that relations between both countries should be as they were before, Mofaz said that the problems in the relationship must be solved together. “When I was the Israeli chief of General Staff, the Turkish chief of General Staff was my best friend,” said Mofaz, adding that leaders of the both sides should come together and discuss the problems.

“We [Turkey and Israel] need to leave the past behind and look to the future. I believe that this will happen in the coming months. I cannot say when and how it might happen, but this is necessary for the strategic aims of both countries,” said Mofaz.

He concluded that previously Turkey and Israel had positive relations, adding this should be the situation again. “This is a strategic step that should be taken by both Turks and Israelis,” said Mofaz.

Israel and Turkey were once close allies, but after the Mavi Marmara incident, relations became strained. The Israel Defense Forces' attack on a humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza on May 31, 2010 resulted in the deaths of eight Turkish civilians and a Turkish-American.

Ankara has declared that a recovery of relations depends on an official apology, compensation for families of the victims and an end to the Gaza blockade. Israel has refused to issue an apology, expressing only regret, claiming that its soldiers acted in self-defense.

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