Netanyahu: Israel investigating if Istanbul attack was aimed at Israelis
ByJPOST.COM STAFF, Herb Keinon
19 March 2016 20:37
When asked if he was in contact with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister said he was not.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan . (photo credit:GERARD FOUET / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that officials in Jerusalem were in contact with their counterparts in Turkey in an attempt to clarify whether the suicide bombing in Istanbul was aimed at Israeli tourists.

The premier made the remarks during a televised statement from the Foreign Ministry’s emergency situation room in Jerusalem.



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When asked if he was in contact with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister said he was not.

Netanyahu noted that in such situations communication and intelligence cooperation are coordinated between two countries and has instructed the Foreign Ministry to issue travel warnings to Turkey due to the severity of the current circumstances.

The prime minister continued by commenting on current reconciliation efforts being quietly conducted between Jerusalem and Ankara, saying that "we are working towards an agreement that will lead to normalization."

"We have encountered some delays in this process, not from a lack of trying but due to fundamental issues" that still need to be addressed, he added.

Turkish-Israel relations soured in May 2010 after an Israeli raid on a Turkish boat, the Mavi Marmara, saw ten people killed as the vessel attempted to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu apologized in 2013 and the issue of compensation has apparently been resolved. Israeli officials have said Israel would not lift the blockade, which it sees as of cardinal importance to its security, to please Erdogan.

Netanyahu added that he has directed the Foreign Ministry to turn to the Turkish Foreign Ministry and demand a condemnation for an incendiary tweet by a member of the ruling AK Party who wished that all the Israelis wounded in the Turkish terrorist attack would die.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that Israel was checking the veracity of the tweet from Irem Aktas, identified as head of the party’s media relations and women’s outreach department, with the Turkish Foreign ministry. The tweet was since removed.

If the tweet was legitimate, and not a fake, then Nachshon said it was a “shocking and ugly statement,” and that Israel would expect an apology and repudiation.

Another AK functionary, Hatice Yucel, posted a tweet saying that Aktas' tweet “does not reflect the opinion of the AK Party.”

She said that the party was taking steps to remove Aktas from her position. Yucel condemned the attack and offered “condolences to those who lost their lives and wish the injured speedy recovery.”

Turkish social media sources reported that Aktas was indeed fired from her position shortly after the tweet was posted.

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