Rivlin thanks Erdogan for firefighting assistance

President Rivlin speaks with Turkish counterpart, thanks him for his country's assistance during the recent wave of fires.

Elad Benari ,

President Reuven Rivlin
President Reuven Rivlin
Flash 90

President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday spoke Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and thanked him for his country's assistance for Israel in during the recent wave of fires.

Turkey is one of several countries which sent firefighting planes to help Israel put out the fires that raged across the country in the past week. Russia, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy also took part in the firefighting efforts, as did the Supertanker which came from the United States.

Rivlin told Erdogan that he had met the Turkish firefighter pilots who assisted in Israel and said, "They do wonderful work and we very much appreciate all they do."

"I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your decision to send us help when we needed it in fighting the fires. With their brave hearts and abilities, your pilots assisted us greatly," he added.

Erdoğan thanked Rivlin for his words and said, "As soon as I found out that the fire was spreading I requested we send our helicopters and teams to help, and I hope and pray that the mission will end with the best outcome possible."

He went on to note that the relations between Turkey and Israel were in the process of a renewal and that the Turkish Ambassador would begin his service soon.

"The normalization of the relations between Turkey and Israel is of utmost importance for the whole region," Erdogan told Rivlin. "I know that we can keep working together in the domain of natural gasses and that the conversations between our energy ministries will bear fruit."

Towards the end of their conversation Erdogan asked Rivlin about the initiatives pertaining to Muslim prayers, a reference to the “Muezzin Law” recently approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation which would prevent mosques from using loudspeakers in the early hours of the morning for its call to prayer.

Rivlin told Erdogan the initiatives would be “considered with sensitivity, as any matter of freedom of speech and religion should be".

Rivlin also asked Erdogan to do all in his power to assist in the return of the soldiers' bodies being held in Gaza, of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, for proper burial in Israel. Rivlin stressed that the State of Israel would continue to allow each person freedom of religion, whether they were Muslim, Christian or Jewish. The two Presidents ended their conversation expressing their hope to speak again soon.

Israel and Turkey reached a reconciliation agreement last June, ending six years of hostilities which began after the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

Despite the fact that Turkey appointed an ambassador to Israel and Israel did the same just weeks ago, Erdogan last week continued his verbal attacks on Israel in an interview with Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan, even as he called for a “new page” in Israel-Turkey relations.

In the interview, Erdogan refused to take back his past verbal attacks against Israel, including a statement that Israel’s attacks against terrorist targets in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge were more barbaric than Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s actions.

“There were times that Gaza was bombarded. I cannot forget those moments when thousands of people were killed in these bombings. I do not agree with what Hitler did and I also do not agree with what Israel has done in Gaza. So there is no point in comparing who was more barbaric...you killed thousands of people in Gaza and Palestine,” he charged.