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Today's Zaman

Netanyahu: We want to restore relations with Turkey

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24 July 2012, Tuesday /SERVET YANATMA
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained that Turkey and Israel are looking for ways to normalize political relations, saying, “We want to restore relations with Turkey.”

As the crisis in Syria aggravates and instability in the region looms, Israel has started to send warm messages, the first of which came from Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week, to Turkey in an effort to mend significantly damaged diplomatic relations. Relations between the two countries have been strained since 2010, when Israeli troops killed nine civilians of Turkish origin in cold blood during a raid of the Mavi Marmara vessel in international waters as it headed to the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid supplies. Noting that restoring the once-excellent political relations is of great importance for the two countries, and the region, Netanyahu said, “Both countries should look for opportunities to achieve that.”

Speaking to a group of Turkish journalists in Jerusalem, he added: “In a region where instability reigns, Israel and Turkey are two quite stable countries. I believe in [our] common interest.” Netanyahu went on to say, drawing attention to the fact that Turks and Jews have a long history.

As it was the case for Lieberman, the Israeli prime minister also spoke to the Turkish press for the first time after the Mavi Marmara raid. And it’s also the first time, as noted by Israeli authorities, that the two politicians have spoken to the same group of journalists. “And it’s the Turkish press. That should have a significance,” the same authorities commented.

As another indication of importance Israel attaches to restoring political relations with Turkey, Netanyahu received Turkish journalists in the same room where Israel’s National Security Cabinet meets. And in the back, behind Netanyahu both Israeli and Turkish flags stood. A high-level Israeli official’s comment on the present situation in the region was revealing as to why Israel finds it necessary to mend ties with Turkey: “Now that the circumstances and interests have changed. We need to get positioned accordingly.”

It was also noteworthy that the high-level official made a point of noting that politics and public opinion are two volatile things. Speaking on the necessity of cooperation between Turkey and Israel, the official, who requested to remain anonymous, added: “The elements of the national interest are political will, public opinion and the changing circumstances. In our region, swift changes have been taking place. Circumstances may lead you to the national interest, and the national interest forms the will.”

In search of a magical formula

According to the high-level official, the two countries have been trying to find a magical formula to mend the bilateral ties, but as of yet the efforts remain fruitless. Noting that they are open to proposals from third parties regarding the magical formula, “The formula needs to not only appeal to both countries but it should also not harm the dignity of either country,” the official remarked. The Israeli official repeated their standard version of the Mavi Marmara incident, maintaining that the incident also led to trauma in Israel, but he is of the opinion that it is important for the two countries to get over the trauma at this point. “Have a look at the developments in the region and you will see Israel and Turkey have common interests,” he noted.

Answering a question about when Turkey and Israel would restart negotiations, he said: “Negotiations with Turkey have never been cut off. We still have open channels.” The official also implied that the two countries continue to share intelligence through the US. Noting that both Turkey and Israel have close ties with the US, and both countries share important information with the US, he said, “We share our concerns about chemical weapons which may get into the hands of illegitimate groups.”

Deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel, which earlier enjoyed rather good relations at all levels, started at the end of 2008 when Israel, which was on the verge of concluding a peace agreement with Syria, with Turkey acting as the mediator, suddenly bombarded the Gaza Strip in a devastating assault, eliminating all hopes for peace with Syria. Turkey probably felt deceived at the time and had the impression that its efforts to bring about peace were not given due respect by Israel. Then came the Davos summit in Switzerland in January 2009, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke out against Shimon Peres for bombarding Gaza and walked out of the forum. Then in May 2010 came the raid by Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara that led to the death of nine Turkish civilians.

‘Ties with Greece developed coincidentally’

Diplomatic relations have significantly developed in the last couple of years between Israel, Greece and Greek Cyprus, a fact which seems to coincide with the deterioration of relations between Turkey and Israel. But Benjamin Netanyahu maintains that this has nothing to do with the deteriorating relations with Turkey, noting that the seed for good ties between Greece and Israel was sown four months before the Mavi Marmara incident took place. The following is the story, relayed by the prime minister, who describes it “as a really interesting story” based on the coincidence of how Israel and Greece decided to promote political relations:

“For many years we had only diplomatic relations with Greece, and with Cyprus the relationship was only at consular level. In February 2010 I went to Moscow with my wife. In the evening, we were eating at a restaurant when someone appeared and told us that [George] Papandreou wanted to come and sit with us. Certainly, I responded, and we started to talk about economic problems. In the end, we both said that all this was just silly, and decided to strengthen our relations.”

@Gary Katz: Hello Gary, are you with it at all? Mavi Marmara was boarded in the high seas (international waters) which was illigal. Therefore, those on board had the right to defend themselves against these highly trained and armed pirates. Metal pipes against guns; there was only one outcome possib...
@Gary Katz, it was cold blooded murder. The IDF was quick to release the video footage of the activists attacking the soldiers but has not released any footage of how they were shot. Furthernore, it has confiscated any evidence gathered by the people on board. Why is that? The way the murders took p...
This article displayed two blatant examples of anti-Israel bias. First, the writer stated the 9 Turks killed in the Mavi Marmara incident were killed "in cold blood." Did the writer not see the video of the Mavi Marmara passengers beating the Israeli soldiers with metal pipes? Why does he think t...
Gary Katz
Turks have no right to complain about anything until they admit to and apologize for the murder of 1.5 million Armenians and the killing of tens of thousands of Kurds. Viva Kurdistan!
Turkey does not need Israel. All Turkiye needs is to be in Peace with allots neighbors and moslem countries. Never trust Israel, a country that since the birthday of itself is built on Genocide and theft. Let this criminal country starve alone, let its people go back where they came from, Moldova ( ...
Mehmet, Albania
turkish government knew about the MAVI before the vessel leave.- they rcvd a lot of warnings , the ship was on route and also Israel offer to put the cargo to screening before they delivery to GAZA.- Turkish government rejected all the offered steps......they should recognize that they had the chanc...
edy burak
What prevents you to establish good relations with Turkey Netanyahu? The easy way is to trust Arabs who are also emetic people, your cousins, children of Abraham (PBUH).And open your arsenal of nuclear bombs for International inspection.
Israel is in a sticky situation with the changes in the Middle East so now it wants to mend ties with Turkey. No thank you. We're better off without a so called alliance that had 9 Turks murdered in open seas. The alliance with Israel only caused Turkey problems made fellow Muslim countries distrust...
Isreal is a nation built along the lines of Nazi Germany, a Country built on murder theft and genocide. How a decent country like Turkey can have relations with it is hard to see.
While fascist erdog will be in power there is no possibility of Israel having civilized realations with muslim turkey.
i only have to quote Tony Blair in context with Nethanlieyou: "He is an armor plated bullshitter". In clean words: dont trust this guy.
@John Cohen: Mavi Marmara was boarded illigally in the high seas (international waters) outside Israeli territorial waters. Everyone knows this all over the world except you John Cohen. What a sorry state you must be in. @Ramesh: Turkey does not need Israel and only trading with the EU will suffice....
Any indications that the present Turkish government and the present Israeli government have less than cordial relations is nothing more than cynical political theater. Anyone who looks at the volume of trade and the extensive range of contacts between the two can understand that. The Israeli governm...
Chester Bushey
If Turkey restores relations with Israel without Israel apologizing for murdering 9 of its citizens, Turkey will not only loose some of its honor; but also the long hard earned respect from the Arab street. Israel must apologize to Turkey, pay compensation to the victims of the Israeli incurred mass...
Ahmed; Aleppo, Syria
Israel can not be trusted, NO apology NO relations, Turkey don't need Israel, Israel Now is weak and Turkey is strong that is why Netanyahu wants to restore relations with Turkey at the same time to make war to Syria by using Turkey
Ramesh, you really have it against Turks or for that matter, more against Muslims. I for one will stop reading or commenting on your garbage.Go back reading or commenting elsewhere, you belong on JPOST where pro Israelis are only published. Its a shame you take up space on Zaman.
Turkey will play a distinctly important role in the Middle East and The Mediterranean region, if relations with Israel are restored to a cordial level. Incidently all the political factions in Israel want friendly relations with Turkey which is a very positive aspect of the situation. It is in the i...
Ahmed m Ibrahim
The picture resembles Hakan Fidan.
The 9 persons killed on the Mavi Marmara were certainly NOT killed in cold blood. It was purely an act of self defence when Israeli soldiers who had legally boarded the ship were brutally attacked with iron bars, knives and other lethal weapons.
John Cohen
Relations can improve as soon as PM Erdogan and FM Davutoglu are ready to apologize for their actions. Not before.
Only when Turkey needs Israel as he put it, a national will, only then should we overlook the past. Eg. Syria and Iran causing BIG issues for Turkey and Israel, only then! otherwise, wait if the time is right. Israel has more pressure than we do, they have Egypt and Syria potentially deteriorating, ...
This is turkey's last chance. Israel is being generous and offering hand of friendship. If turkey is rejecting it then Turkey will never be accepted as normal country. And never be accepted into EU. So if Turkey is wanting to join Free World, and leave backward arabs and iran behind then Turkey must...
Why now? What changed? Why would Turkey sit at a table with a government who's people set themselves on fire because of their policy. Does Israel provide any of her natural resources? No. But they wanted a contract to provide them with 20 years worth of water from Turkey. As Secretary Robert Gat...
Turkish Canadian
Bibi I have magic formula: it helps sometimes to sat people on lower chairs.
Danny Ayalon
Question to our beloved ultimo Leader the Bibiman: Couldnt Iron Dome or even Tin Dome save us or Mister Mitt Romney?
Iron Dome
– as mediator in indirect contacts between Syria and Israel. Israel wants to no peace: Turkey mediated indirect contacts between Syria and Israel what happened Operation Cast Lead. Israel learned a lot in the past how to play false.
Greece and South Cyprus can help you out this time from this threat. We advised you. You know it better. How hypocrite is that. We hav enot common interest anymore. L
Where are all the people who opposed an apology? You also have to realize that you played a childish game. Davutoglus zero problem policy works. After the hard working years the time to collect the ripe fruits is nearby. Even the rotten fruit wants to be tasted but backstabbing - backwards creeping ...
The `enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend` logic is not working anymore. Israels` government has to realize that they ignored the Arab spring under estimated the strength of the Arabellion. Now it is squeezed in the corner. Turkey, on the other hand, has used the time to repair friendships and make clos...
one way ticket to damsacus
Bibi Tours
Tureky doesnt need Israel
Confucius says also
In the light of threat creep backwards...
Confucius says
Good finally the show of this fake tension between Israel and Turkey will end. This means only one thing, that keeping on with this show became useless since Turkey failed in its mission to earn the trust of Arabs in Middle East!
Turkey would like Israel to live as a normal state amongst its neighbors. But normalcy will start only when Israel accept the rights of an independent Palestinian state. Turkey would help in making the two entities live in peace and friendship. Palestinians would not like to have a colonial status v...
A. khan
Is this statement meant to get the support of the Europeans and Americans or is it out of sincerity. If Mr Netanyahu really means it then he certainly knows what to do. Period. No more games and meetings on this subject. It is clear that under Turkish Foreign Policy the Turkish Republic wants peace ...
A. Khan
"Relations between the two countries have been strained since 2010, when Israeli troops killed nine civilians of Turkish origin in cold blood". Dig a little deeper, Servet: a) Relations between the countries had been deteriorating since Erdagon starting using Israel as a political punching bag...
I just don't see how you can watch the video of the raid and still say killed "in cold blood". It's like the author physically can't see the steel bars, knives, and guns the passengers were assaulting the soldiers with.
I do not hesitate to admit that I take a pro Israel position here all the time. But, . . . the Israeli government is being short sighted
israel: the trouble itself:)))
How many more , quite stable countries like these 2 the ME can handle. Just Appel louououo JjjjjAaaaayyyyyyyZzzzzz. Kiss and makeup time is around the corner.
Zahra Niknafs
Take it.! Believe in Israel, more than in Iran. Did you just read the article "Iran commander..., Syrians will revenge Turkey>>>"?! Does Iran and all the rest brain washed extremists know any better to deal with stuff in a humane manner? Do not think so. Only when Turkey and Israel get together as u...
All Good
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