Egypt urges Israel not to normalize ties with Turkey

Sources reveal Cairo has been worriedly asking for clarification over reports that Israel will lift Gaza blockade, let Turkey into Gaza.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 1/7/2016, 5:40 PM

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
Reuters

Egypt recently contacted Israel requesting clarification over the rapprochement talks Jerusalem is holding with Turkey, it was revealed on Thursday.

Senior clerks in Jerusalem told Haaretz on condition of anonymity that the Egyptian government expressed its displeasure with the notion of Turkey being given an official role in Gaza, and further asked to clarify Israel's intentions regarding Turkey's demand to lift the naval blockade on the Hamas-run enclave.

According to a senior clerk cited in the report Thursday, Egypt has demanded that Israel not cave in to Turkey's demands regarding Gaza, and the strong Egyptian opposition is a key factor preventing a normalization deal from being reached with Ankara.

Turkey continues to firmly support Hamas, which is a Gazan offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that the Egyptian government has been cracking down on. Egypt has been imposing a siege of Gaza, having turned the southern edge of the region into a buffer zone.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly fears that any compromise he might make to Turkey regarding the terror enclave of Gaza will harm relations with Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1978 following numerous failed attempts to destroy the Jewish state.

Netanyahu has said that Israel tried to mediate between Egypt and Turkey to reduce tensions between the rival states and allow Turkey to be more involved in Gaza, but the attempts failed.

Egyptian diplomats have been in touch with Israeli ambassadors and senior members of the foreign ministry to try and clarify recent reports from Turkey, according to which Israel is considering lifting its siege on Gaza which is meant to block the influx of weapons to the terrorists.

Turkey and Egypt have seen a crisis in relations recently, over the support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP party for the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2013 a military coup saw the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi deposed as president in Egypt, and replaced by military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Turkey likewise supports the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, which the Egyptian government strongly opposes.

Turkish defense sources revealed last month that Turkey is primarily interested in rapprochement so as to buy Israeli military hardware, with Ankara interested in buying more advanced Israeli drones as well as reconnaissance and surveillance systems for its fighter jets.

Senior Israeli security sources for their part said they doubt Turkey is serious about rapprochement, noting on the crisis in ties with Russia - a key gas supplier for Turkey - that apparently prompted the desire for natural gas trade with Israel.