Turkey offers talks with Israel to end Gaza assault
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç (Photo: Today's Zaman)
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has made a surprise offer and suggested that Turkey and Israel hold bilateral talks to end the escalating crisis in Gaza despite the rift between the two nations.
Arınç told reporters on Thursday that Turkey expects Israel to immediately halt the attacks on Gaza, which have left at least 20 Palestinians dead, including many civilians and infants. He added that these attacks have no moral and legal basis.
He described the death of Hamas' military mastermind, Ahmed Al-Jaabari, as “martyrdom” and pounding the city with bombs as “non-humanitarian” behavior and a “tragedy.”
The latest upsurge in the long-running conflict between Israel and Gaza came on Wednesday when Israel killed Jaabari in a precision air strike on his car. Israel then began shelling the coastal enclave from land, air and sea.
Two days of Israeli air strikes have killed 19 Palestinians, including seven militants and 12 civilians, among them six children and a pregnant woman carrying twins. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis in the town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday morning.
Noting that Turkey will make every effort in this regard, Arınç recalled that relations between Turkey and Israel are now frozen.
“But these two states should have talks at least on this issue to end this tragedy and attacks,” Arınç said. He said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's remarks on Thursday were a “shared thought” of everyone and that Israel is doing what it had done in the past but “this is wrong.”
Davutoğlu told reporters in Djibouti, where he traveled to attend the foreign ministers meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Thursday, that Israel had once again displayed its aggressiveness by attacking Gaza on Wednesday night.
The Turkish foreign minister said Turkey will take steps at international institutions to see necessary measures taken against what he called Israel's “aggressive position.”
Turkish and Israeli relations collapsed after eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish American were killed when the Israeli Navy attacked an international aid flotilla trying to break an Israeli blockade of Gaza in May 2010.
Ankara wants an official apology from Israel for the raid and calls for the lifting of the Gaza blockade, but both demands have so far been rejected by the Israeli government. With tensions increased, Turkey has expelled the Israeli ambassador and suspended military agreements it had with the country.