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Kerry: Turkey-Israel Reconciliation Vital for Peace

Israel and Turkey's rapprochement is a vital factor in developing peace and stability, says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
First Publish: 3/24/2013, 6:10 AM

John Kerry
John Kerry
Reuters

Israel and Turkey's recent rapprochement is a vital factor in developing peace and stability in the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday, AFP reported.

"The reconciliation between Israel and Turkey is a very important development that will help advance the cause of peace and stability in the region," Kerry said in a statement Saturday from the Jordanian capital Amman.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan deserve great credit for showing the leadership necessary to make this possible," he added, according to AFP.

"We look forward to an expeditious implementation of the agreement and the full normalization of relations so Israel and Turkey can work together to advance their common interests."

Kerry, who held talks with Netanyahu on Saturday night after an earlier meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said the rapprochement would help Israel meet the regional challenges it faces.

The top U.S. diplomat "had useful follow up meetings with both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu," a senior State Department official told journalists in Amman.

"In both meetings, Secretary Kerry reiterated that peace is not only possible, but necessary for the future of the Israeli and Palestinian people," the official added, according to AFP.

On Friday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, during which nine Turks were killed after they attacked IDF soldiers who boarded the Mavi Marmara which attempted to break the naval blockade on Gaza.

On Saturday night, Netanyahu explained in a message on his Facebook page why he chose to apologize to Erdogan.

"After three years of a disconnect in Israeli-Turkish relations," he wrote, "I decided that this is the time to rebuild them."

"The changing reality around us forces us to continually reexamine our relations with the countries surrounding us in the region. In the last three years, the state of Israel has made several attempts to end the disconnect between us and Turkey.

"The fact that the crisis in Syria is getting worse by the minute was, for me, a central consideration,” said Netanyahu.

National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror confirmed on Saturday night that the situation in Syria was the main reason for Israel’s apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident.

“The Middle East has changed,” he told Channel 2 News. “Between us and Turkey there is a state with chemical stockpiles that may get into hostile hands and Turkey has an interest to prevent this from happening, as does Israel.”