Agreement with Turkey 'close', says official

Dore Gold, Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, gives a rare interview to Saudi website, says rapprochement with Turkey is close.

Nitsan Keidar,

Dr. Dore Gold
Dr. Dore Gold
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Dore Gold, Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, on Monday gave a rare interview to a Saudi Arabian website in which he said an agreement with Turkey on normalization of ties was close.

"An agreement is close," Gold told the Elaph news website, noting that there are intensive contacts between the two sides. "Some points have already been finalized and others are still being discussed, but things are on track."

Gold added that "the interests of Turkey and Israel at this time are finding a lot of common ground due to regional events. Things are headed in a positive direction towards a solution to satisfy the desires of both parties, but there is still no date for a final agreement to be reached."

Recent reports indicated that Israel and Turkey, in secret talks in Switzerland, had reached "understandings" to normalize ties that were downgraded following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

Turkish officials, however,  have downplayed the reports, noting that while progress was made in talks, no agreement has been reached.

Earlier on Monday, in fact, a spokesman for Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out any chances of a rapprochement with Israel, saying any normalization with Israel would be conditioned on the lifting of the blockade on Gaza - which Israel has imposed to restrict the flow of weapons to Hamas and other terrorist organizations there.

Gold’s interview with Elaph dealt mainly with the question of closer relations between Israel and Arab states. The Foreign Ministry Director-General stressed that "Israel's interest is to establish relations and forge alliances with moderate Arab countries." He also noted that the threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) to the State of Israel is the same as the threat the jihadist group poses to Arab countries.

Gold also acknowledged that Israel prevented the transfer of missiles to Hezbollah. "We do not take sides in the conflict within Syria, but we ensure our red lines are not crossed," he said, adding that Israel disrupted and would continue to disrupt any attempts by terrorist organizations to obtain weapons.




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