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Israel sends message to Turkey: Let’s clear the air
By HERB KEINON
02/25/2013
Israel tells Ankara it's interested in creating a more “positive dynamic” in its relationship with the country.
 
Israel sent messages to Ankara over the last two weeks that it is interested in creating a more “positive dynamic” in its badly strained relationship with Turkey so the two countries can work together to further common interests, government officials said Sunday.

The messages were sent prior to John Kerry’s maiden trip abroad as US secretary of state, a trip that will take him to nine countries in 10 days, including Turkey.

It is widely expected that Kerry will raise the issue of ties with Israel during his talks with Turkish leaders in Ankara.

The US has long been pressing both Ankara and Jerusalem to take steps to improve relations that went into a nosedive following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

Kerry left Sunday for his trip that will take him to – in addition to Turkey – the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

According to the government official, Jerusalem’s message that it was important for Israel and Turkey to “get more positive vectors” in their relationship reflected a recognition in Israel that restoring the ties to where they were a decade ago before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party came to power was not realistic. There is, however, a sense that a more positive dynamic could be infused into the ties.

The official would not say whether a recent decision by the defense firm Elta to deliver to Turkey $100 million of equipment for four Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) was one of these positive vectors, or whether an Israeli offer earlier this month to lay a natural gas pipeline through Turkey to Europe – an offer left without a response from the Turks – was an effort to create this positive dynamic.

“There are many reasons why the current situation is unsatisfactory,” the official said. “Both sides would seem to have an interest in a better relationship, first and foremost with regard to Syria, where the growing fragmentation there is leading to weapons in the hands of different extremist groups. There are other reasons why you would think that Turkey and Israel would find it advantageous to have a more positive relationship.”

The messages from Jerusalem to Ankara to try and improve the dynamics of the relationship were sent just days after Erdogan and his foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu bashed Israel in harsh terms at the beginning of the month for allegedly bombing a Syrian arms convoy en route to Lebanon and Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office had no comment on a Channel 2 report Saturday night that National Security Adviser Yaacov Amidror met three weeks ago in Rome with the directory general of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, or a Haaretz report Sunday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had turned down an offer by outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak to take the brunt of responsibility for the Mavi Marmara raid and apologize for “operational mishaps.”
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