U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend opened a ten-day tour of the Middle East. During the visit, he is expected to try and encourage a warming of relations between Israel and Turkey, and a reopening of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Speaking in a joint news conference with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Kerry said that he was very anxious for Turkey and Israel to restore ties as fully as possible. Good relations were essential for stability in the Middle East, as well as for making progress in negotiations between Israel and the PA, he said.
Kerry added that Israel and Turkey were set to reestablish relations and exchange ambassadors, as soon as Israel had finished paying compensation demanded by Turkey for the deaths of Hamas terror group-affiliated activists who were killed in 2010 during the Gaza flotilla, as they tried to murder IDF soldiers on the Mavi Marmara. Kerry said that he did not know when these two events would take place, as it was not the role of the United States to set a timetable for such activities.
Reports Saturday said that Kerry was hoping to persuade Turkey to broker talks between Israel and the PA. A State Department spokesperson said that this would be a welcome development, as Turkey had a great deal of influence on the PA and could push it to accept the principles of the Quartet.