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Turkey Rejects Israel 'Invitation' for Syria Talks

Turkey has rejected an invitation by Israel to discuss the situation in Syria, according to Turkish media.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 10/22/2012, 10:22 PM

Mavi Marmara
Mavi Marmara
Flash 90

The Foreign Ministry in Ankara has dismissed an overture allegedly made in Jerusalem by Israeli Foreign Ministry deputy director-general Pinchas Avivi, according to the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper.

Avivi reportedly told Turkish journalists that Israel and Turkey should set aside their differences and discuss the escalating crisis in Syria. The ministry official allegedly told the journalists, “We have to overcome our issues and focus on the future. We have both made some mistakes but the escalated crisis between Israel and Turkey was artificial. We can sit around the table and solve our problems.”

However, according to the Turkish newspaper, Ankara rejected the overture, saying, “There is no change in Turkey's stance towards Israel.

"Israeli authorities have to take the expected steps to normalize relations instead of giving messages through the press,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Secuk Unal was quoted as saying.

According to the Turkish report, Avivi indicated that Jerusalem has said it might be ready to negotiate over the issue that resulted in the damaged ties between the two nations – the 2010 clash on the illegal Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara flotilla vessel that attempted to breach Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza. The incident ended in the deaths of eight Turkish nationals and one American, all of whom were armed and had attacked IDF commandos as they boarded to take control and redirect the vessel to Ashdod port. Three IDF soldiers were initially kidnapped and others were badly wounded before other commandos shot and killed their attackers.

Turkey demanded a public apology and financial compensation to the families of the terror activists who were killed, in addition to the removal of the blockade on Gaza.

The Turkish report claimed Avivi told the journalists that Israeli might agree to negotiate over the raid, if Turkey is willing to separate out the Gaza blockade from the issue of diplomatic relations between Jerusalem and Ankara.

An Israeli source quoted Foreign Ministry officials as saying the reporters were told that Jerusalem is interested in repairing ties with Turkey and entering a dialogue over Syria and regional matters. However, he said, no official invitation was made.