J'lem sends aid as Turkey calls for pressure on Israel

First plane of earthquake relief departs for Ankara; Turkish FM Davutoglu maintains harsh rhetoric, says Turkey must "press hard" on Israel.

October 26, 2011 20:12
2 minute read.
Prefabricated homes are loaded onto ElAl cargo jet

Prefabricated homes are loaded onto an ElAl cargo jet 311 (R. (photo credit: REUTERS/ Nir Elias)

The first of what is expected to be several civilian planes full of Israeli earthquake relief aid set off for Turkey on Wednesday, even as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu kept up his tough rhetoric against Israel.

The 747 plane chartered by the Defense Ministry carried seven prefabricated homes that have all the necessary electric wiring and can be lived in immediately by people who lost their homes in Sunday’s earthquake that devastated the eastern province of Van and killed more than 460 people. The plane, which will land in Ankara, is also carrying warm clothes, blankets and mattresses.

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A Defense Ministry official said that one, and possibly two more planes will be sent on Thursday. The official said the ministry chartered a civilian plane not because of a Turkish ban on IDF planes flying over Turkey, but rather because the 747 could carry more than an IDF transport plane.

But even as the plane was being loaded, Davutoglu – on a visit to Jordan –called for forceful pressure on Israel, saying that only such pressure would force Jerusalem into giving up on a number of principles and making it easier to establish a Palestinian state.

“We believe that if we will press hard enough on Israel, we will bring it to a situation where it will be convinced that it needs to carry out its part of moving the diplomatic process forward and establishing a Palestinian state,” Israel Radio quoted Davutoglu as saying.

His words, meanwhile, did not surprise officials in Jerusalem who had low expectations that the humanitarian aid would significantly improve the badly strained relationship with Ankara.

Josh Hantman, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said the aid was “not a diplomatic matter, but a humanitarian one aimed at keeping men, women and children safe and warm.”

Another government official said the shipment represented “good neighborly relations. I don’t want to raise expectations.

The Turks helped us battle the Carmel forest fire [in December], and while that was greatly appreciated, it didn’t improve the ties. We want to be realistic. This is about neighbors helping neighbors.”

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