PM mum on whether ties with Turkey are on the mend

It is unlikely that any closure of the incident will come before Turkel Commission’s results are published.

December 7, 2010 01:56
2 minute read.
Erdogan flag

Erdogan flag 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

While Turkey’s decision to send two planes to assist in fighting the Mount Carmel fire has provided an opening for an improvement in Israeli-Turkish ties, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would not give a status report Monday night on the current nature of the relationship.

Asked at a Jerusalem press conference about what was happening with the ties – amid reports that Israeli and Turkish officials were meeting in Geneva to come up with a formula that would put the Mavi Marmara incident in the past and lead to a return of Turkey’s envoy to Israel – Netanyahu said he would not talk about it at this time.

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The prime minister also ignored a question about whether he would apologize – as the Turks are demanding – for the flotilla incident in which nine Turks were killed trying to break Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. Turkey is also demanding compensation payments for those injured in the incident, as well as to the families of the dead.

“Let’s say we are very appreciative of the fact that the Turkish government sent two planes at a time when we needed them,” Netanyahu said. “We greatly appreciate that. I think that is very important, and I expressed that appreciation, as well as my hope that this will enable us to move forward in an improvement of ties. Beyond that, I have nothing to say.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said since Ankara sent the planes that he still demands an apology from Israel for the flotilla incident.

Netanyahu, before the Carmel fire, said in private conversations that it was the Turks who should apologize for the incident.

Amid reports that some kind of formula was being worked out, it was noted in Jerusalem Monday that the Turkel Commission investigating the incident still needed to issue its report. That would then be passed on to the United Nations, which is working on a report of its own.

It is unlikely that any closure of the incident will come before the commission’s results are published, and there is also some expectation that in the final analysis, both sides would agree to a statement that the UN committee – made up of both an Israeli and a Turkish representative – would produce.

Yosef Ciechanover, the Israeli representative on the UN panel, was reportedly sent by Netanyahu to meet a senior Turkish diplomat, Feridun Sinirlioglu, in Geneva on Sunday in an effort to defuse the tensions.

Israeli officials were not commenting on that meeting on Monday.

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