It appears prospects for an Israeli-Turkish rapprochement are once again growing more distant.
During a news conference held on Tuesday, Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reiterated his government's position that any reconciliation between Ankara and Jerusalem would be contingent upon an Israeli commitment to remove the siege on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
"The compensation talks on behalf of the victims of the Mavi Marmara, which are taking place between Ankara and Jerusalem, have not concluded," Erdogan said. "In the final stages, there will be a need to include a clause in the protocol that calls for the lifting of the siege on Gaza."
The premier's statements were all the more surprising given that just two days ago his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, was quoted as saying that Turkey and Israel are as close as they have been yet to ending the long-running saga over the Mavi Marmara incident.
Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News quoted Davutoglu, who has been an acerbic and vocal critic of Israel, as saying in a televised interview that "there has recently been a momentum and new approach in compensation talks. We could say that most of the differences have been removed recently in these discussions."
Israeli diplomatic officials, continuing a policy that has been in place for the last few weeks, refused to comment on the matter. Last week officials in the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry were instructed not to talk about the issue.
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