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.
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.”