Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday described as “very weird,”
the diplomats sent by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to help negotiate a
normalization of relations between the two countries, Turkish daily Today’s
Zaman reported Friday.
Ties between Turkey and Israel have been strained
following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which IDF commandos killed nine
Turkish citizens who attacked them while trying to break the blockade on
Speaking to journalists on his return flight to Ankara from Berlin,
Erdogan reiterated his demands for restoring ties with Israel, Today’s Zaman
“It is impossible that our relations will be fixed unless these
demands are realized,” he said, according to the report.
While Israel has
expressed willingness to meet several of Turkey’s conditions, it has refused
Erdogan’s demand that the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip be lifted.
clearly told them [Israeli diplomats] that Turkey is not open to options that
include offering apology and compensation, but not lifting Gaza blockade,”
Today’s Zaman quoted the prime-minister as saying.
Israel has indicated
it would agree to a text along the lines of an apology “if” operational mistakes
were made and unintentional damage caused. It also has agreed to reparation
It refuses, however, to lift the blockade as a condition to
improved relations, saying Turkey cannot be allowed to dictate Israeli
Erdogan also revived talk of a long-planned and twice-canceled
visit to the Gaza Strip.
The Turkish prime minister told reporters he
plans to visit Gaza soon, and that Turkish officials are conducting talks with
officials in the Strip in order to make the trip happen, according to Today’s
Erdogan announced plans to visit Gaza in July and again in
September of 2011, both times canceling the trip that would have surely irked
the Israeli government. Israel and much of the West designate the ruling Hamas
government in Gaza as a terrorist organization.
He praised a visit to
Gaza by Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani last month, the first
visit by a head of state to the coastal strip in five years.
sensitive to criticism from the West Bank-based, Fatah-controlled Palestinian
Authority that official contacts with Hamas undermine its legitimacy as the sole
Palestinian government, Erdogan made a reference to the possibility of visiting
together with PA President Abbas.
Noting that he once suggested to Abbas
that they visit Gaza together, Erdogan said: “He was warm to the suggestion,”
according to Today’s Zaman.