Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy: Knesset Channel)
A month and a half after Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin invited him to Israel, his Turkish counterpart Cemil Çiçek officially turned down the invitation to visit the Jewish state, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported Wednesday.
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The November 29, 2011 letter from Rivlin asked Çiçek to come to Israel to improve bilateral ties between the two countries.
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“The invitation will be considered when the bilateral relations become more favorable," Çiçek responded. “I am sure you know our expectations to enable our relations [to be] normalized.”
Israeli-Turkish ties have been strained since an Israeli army raid on the Mavi Marmara
ship, part of an aid flotilla to Gaza, resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals on board in 2010.
In early January, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh met with the IHH Humanitarian Relief organization
, the group behind the flotilla, during a trip to Turkey.
In a press conference aboard the ship, Haniyeh denounced Israel's blockade on Gaza. He thanked Turkey for supporting Gaza, saying that the "Marmara," which attempted to breach the blockade on Gaza, brought honor to Turkey and "captured the hearts" of Gaza residents.