Lieberman invites Turkish FM for ‘honest dialogue’

In ‘Post’ op-ed, FM says Israel won’t be "punching bag," but adds,“allies can have disagreements, it is how we deal with them that is important."

January 6, 2011 03:39
3 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Hungary.

lieberman glasses 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)


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Ten days after saying that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is spreading lies about Israel, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman invited him to Jerusalem, in an op-ed piece that appears in today’s Jerusalem Post.

“We are seeking a return to a frank and honest dialogue with Turkey, and I invite my counterpart, Foreign Minister Davutoglu, to Jerusalem, or any other location, where we can discuss all issues of relevance to both nations and the wider region,” Lieberman wrote.

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“Allies can have disagreements; it is how we deal with these disagreements that are the true mark of any relationship.”

Turkey recalled its ambassador after the Mavi Marmara incident in May, when nine Turks were killed after IDF commandos stopped a ship trying to break the blockade of Gaza.

High-level talks in Geneva between the two countries were held immediately after the Turks sent two planes to help put out the Carmel forest fire last month, but those talks did not lead to any breakthrough in efforts to find a formula for putting an end to the tension.

Turkey is demanding an apology for the incident, as well as compensation payments, while Israel is willing to express regret for loss of life, but not apologize.

On December 26, at a Jerusalem conference of Israel’s ambassadors, Lieberman said Ankara’s apology demand was “beyond chutzpa,” and if anyone needed to apologize, it was the Turks. He also accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “lies.”

In his Post op-ed, Lieberman was not – with the exception of his invitation to Davutoglu – any more conciliatory.

The crisis in Turkish-Israeli ties, Lieberman wrote, did not begin with the Mavi Marmara incident, but was “long predetermined” in Ankara. He wrote that the unilateral change in the status of relations was a result of “internal politics” inside Turkey.

“Unfortunately, recent events in Turkey are reminiscent of Iran before the Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini,” Lieberman wrote. “Like Turkey, Iran was amongst Israel’s closest allies and the two nations held good relations between both governments and people.

Similarly, the Khomenei revolution was the result of internal factors and had absolutely no connection to Israel.”

Referring to a crowd of 100,000 people who – without condemnation from any Turkish official – chanted anti-Israeli slogans when the Mavi Marmara returned to Turkey last month, Lieberman wrote that “Israel will not be a punching bag and will react, as any other sovereign nation, to such insults and abuse.”

Lieberman’s op-ed comes a day after the Turkish press widely reported a survey conducted by the Ankara-based MetroPOLL among 1,504 adults nationwide, showing that more than 63 percent of the public said Turkey should freeze relations with Israel.

According to the Today’s Zaman website, some 28% of the respondents said Ankara should improve relations with Israel.

The poll also showed that 24% of Turks perceive Israel to be Turkey’s greatest threat.

Surprisingly, some 43% believe the US – its NATO ally – is the country’s biggest threat.

The US and Israel were followed by Iran, which only 3% viewed as a threat, and Greece, viewed as a threat by 2.1% of those surveyed.

The poll also indicated that were elections to be held today, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) would take 45% of the vote, with the main opposition Republican’s People’s Party (CHP) picking up around 31% of the vote. Elections are scheduled for June.

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