Turkey Trying to Broker Gaza Ceasefire

Turkey steps up diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, but this will be difficult given its tense relations with Israel.

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Erdogan and Hamas leader Mashaal (archive)
Erdogan and Hamas leader Mashaal (archive)

Turkey has stepped up diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, AFP reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke separately by telephone with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal to discuss the ceasefire process.

Abbas is due to meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey on Friday but Turkish officials refuse to confirm if Mashaal would visit.

No contacts have been made with Israel so far, a Turkish official told AFP.

"Concrete steps can only be taken after Israel stops its assault on Gaza," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Turkey brokering a ceasefire would be a challenge, given its tense relations with Israel in recent years.

Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained in recent years, in light of the Mavi Marmara incident of 2010.

The Mavi Marmara, which claimed to international media to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza," was the largest ship in the flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's Gaza blockade on May 31, 2010.

The ship defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel - only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board.

The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine of the activists on board.

After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid - in fact, no aid supplies at all - whatsoever. 

When Israel refused Turkey’s demands to apologize for raiding the Marmara, Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and expelled the Israeli ambassador in Ankara.

Israel and Turkey have been locked in talks for more than a year over compensation, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu extended a formal apology to Ankara under pressure by U.S. President Barack Obama.

However, Erdogan has resumed his verbal attacks against Israel in recent days, since it launched Operation Protective Edge.

Erdogan has become increasingly more vocal over the operation, and threatened to end the normalization process with Israel.

Erdogan also accused Israel of "lies" because "not enough" Israeli Jews have died in the conflict. 

On Tuesday, he accused Israel of “state terrorism” and claimed that Israel was perpetrating a "massacre" of Palestinians.

Erodgan also compared Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked to Adolf Hitler.