Recep Tayyip Erdogan 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel denied Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s claim Monday that Jerusalem had once again accepted Turkish mediation of indirect talks with Syria.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu places importance on the Israeli-Turkish relationship and welcomes any international player interested in furthering peace in the region, “no decision has been taken to renew the Turkish mediation.”
But an earlier statement put out by the PMO read, If these comments “reflect Turkey’s desire to strengthen its relations with Israel and to contribute to peacemaking in the region – then Israel would clearly welcome that aspiration.”
Israeli-Turkish relations remain badly strained, with Erdogan quoted on Saturday in a Saudi newspaper as saying – in reference to the recent government decision to place the Cave of the Patriarch and Rachel’s tomb on a list of Jewish heritage sites – that those two sites, and the Al–Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem, “will forever be Islamic and will never be part of the Jewish heritage.”
He was also quoted as urging Palestinians to unite, because the
Fatah-Hamas division “is not in favor of the Palestinians, but in the
interest of their enemies. I love my brothers in Fatah and my brothers
in Hamas wherever they are.”
On Tuesday, according to the state run Anatolia news agency, Erdogan
was quoted as telling journalists during a visit to Saudi Arabia that
“Israel has accepted” Turkish mediation in talks with Syria.
Turkey mediated several rounds of indirect negotiations between Israel
and Syria in 2008, but the talks were suspended after Operation Cast
Lead. Ever since, and despite scathing criticism of Israel by Erdogan,
Ankara has been trying to reassert itself as a player in the Middle
East through mediation of talks between Israel and Syria.