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Report: Israel-Turkey Ties Warming Up

Turkish newspaper reports Israel warming up to Turkey in light of the IHH pulling out of this year’s Gaza flotilla.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/28/2011, 5:15 AM

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A report which appeared on Monday in a Turkish newspaper says the ties between Israel and Turkey are warming up.

According to the Turkish Hürriyet Daily newspaper, Israel is responding warmly to Turkey, particularly since the IHH organization announced it would be dropping out of the planned “Freedom Flotilla 2” to Gaza.

The newspaper cited a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry diplomat, who was quoted as saying, “Israel’s approach to mending fences with Turkey has never interrupted since the Mavi Marmara incident.”

He was referring to the incident that occurred during last year’s flotilla. The IHH ship Mavi Marmara tried to break the naval blockade on Gaza, claiming that it was carrying humanitarian aid for the residents of the Strip. When the ship’s captain refused Israel’s orders to change course, IDF soldiers were forced to board the ship, at which point the so-called “peace activists” on board attacked the soldiers with clubs and attempted to kidnap them. The soldiers had no choice but to fire their weapons, resulting in the death of nine people.

It was later discovered that there was no humanitarian aid whatsoever on the Mavi Marmara.

The incident caused a major rift in Israel’s relationship with Turkey, with the latter demanding that Israel apologize for raiding the Marmara and for the deaths of the Turkish citizens. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to do so.

However, the diplomat told Hürriyet Daily Israel was recently sending warmer messages to Turkey, and added that “None of the parties are content with the current state of the relationship between Turkey and Israel. Efforts are under way to repair the ties.”

Furthermore, another report published in the Hürriyet on Monday revealed that Netanyahu had accepted Turkey’s request for an apology over the Marmara incident, but backed out on three separate occasions due to fear his coalition might fall.

The report, which was not confirmed elsewhere, cited information leaked from secret meetings between Turkish and Israeli officials. A Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet that a “number of contacts at the technical level took place” over the issue, but noted that “our position has never changed.”