President Shimon Peres will try to patch up Turkey's frosty relationship with Israel when he meets with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan on Thursday evening as part of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It will be the first meeting between high-level Israeli and Turkish officials since Operation 'Cast Lead' ended.
Turkey harshly criticized Israel during Operation Cast Lead for its military actions in Gaza. Peres told IDF Army Radio on Thursday that his objective is to restore Israeli-Turkish diplomatic relations. The friendship between the nations was placed in jeopardy two weeks ago after the Turkish prime minister sharply criticized the IDF’s operations in Gaza. “He was mainly influenced by the visuals in Al-Jazeera. I will explain to him our version and we will repair the relationship. We won’t harm them,” Peres said, explaining that he will show Erdogan the Israeli side of the conflict, which Israel began after Hamas terrorists fired thousands of rockets at Israeli targets in the last eight years.
Peres said he planned to present a program to establish a fund for rehabilitating Gaza, on the condition that the millions of dollars that are channeled into Gaza will only reach United Nations facilities and Fatah representatives, who are in opposition to the Gaza-based Palestinian Authority ruled by the Hamas.
Both Turkish leaders and the Turkish public reacted harshly to what they call “Israel's devastating offensive in the Gaza Strip,” Turkey's English daily, Today’s Zaman, reports. Prime Minister Erdogan has recently called the IDF’s operations in Gaza “a crime against humanity.” In addition, Erdogan emphasized that Hamas was elected democratically in 2006 in its landslide victory, which shows that the Arab populace in Gaza has chosen Hamas as their elected officials. Erodogan is critical of world leaders for leaving Hamas out of the peace process. In addition, the Turkish prime minister has warned that the situation in Gaza could worsen if Western nations do not recognize Hamas as the legitimate leadership of the Palestinian Authority populace in Gaza.