Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu communicated his condolences to the Israeli victims of Saturday’s suicide bombing in the heart of Istanbul’s shopping and tourist district.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Davutoglu wrote that the attack “has shown us once again that the international community as a whole should act in a resolute manner against the ignoble objectives of terrorist organizations.”
“I would like to convey my condolences to the families of the Israeli citizens who lost their lives in the heinous attack which happened in Istanbul and to the people of Israel, and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded,” the Turkish prime minister said.
Davutoğlu’s conciliatory gesture is a welcome departure from a statement posted on Twitter earlier on Saturday from a spokesperson for the prime minister’s ruling AKP (Justice and Development) Party.
Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz reacted angrily to the Turkish political official who was dismissed from her position as a spokesperson for the ruling Islamist-leaning AKP Party for wishing death upon Israelis wounded in Saturday’s suicide bombing in Istanbul.
Irem Aktas, the head of the party’s media relations and women’s outreach department, was fired after posting the provocative tweet immediately after the attack.
“In the terrorist incident today on the streets of Istanbul, Israeli civilians and others were brutally murdered,” Katz said.
“How much evil, hatred, and inhumaneness does one need in order to express oneself in such a manner?” the minister said. “Where are the leaders of her party and why aren’t they denouncing her and officially apologizing to the State of Israel?”
“This is not the way to advance reconciliation [between the two countries],” he said.
The AKP, otherwise known as the Justice and Development Party, is an Islamist-leaning movement which swept into power under Erdogan’s leadership in 2002.
It has been the dominant force in Turkish politics, pulling the country toward a more religious orientation despite its secular, Kamalist character.
Erdogan and his party have been particularly vocal in their hostility toward Israel and their support for Hamas.
Relations between Turkey and Israel broke off following the Israeli commando raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla that sought to break through the blockade of the Palestinian coastal territory ruled by Islamist Hamas.
In recent months, however, there has been talk of a rapprochement between the two erstwhile strategic allies.
Last month, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported that a representative appointed by Turkey's Defense Ministry has been sent to Israel in order to procure Israeli-made weapons and aircraft equipment as a condition for the return to normalized relations between the two countries.
According to Al-Jarida
, Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz sent a special envoy Tuesday to meet with Israel's security echelon in order to negotiate financial terms concerning weapons sales.
Israel in turn has demanded to know whether the weapons were intended to attack Kurdish rebels positioned on the Turkish-Syrian border, according to the report.
The Turkish government made clear that the weapons sales, including the purchasing of unmanned aerial vehicles, was part of a wider framework agreement in which the two countries would normalize relations, according to the Al-Jarida
Israel has yet to respond to the Turkish request, waiting to see if Ankara was still committed to honoring previous agreements to buy gas from the Jewish state. In turn, Turkey has yet to respond to Israeli inquiries concerning the use of UAV's against the Kurds.
In response to reports that Turkey and Israel were close to reaching an agreement in returning to normalized relations, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said earlier this week that it was difficult to proceed in negotiations between the nations if Turkey continues to support the terrorist organizations Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
"I am not sure if we can arrive to an agreement" if they continue funding these extremist organizations, Ya'alon said. "They must comply with the terms of our agreement so that we can overcome these obstacles," he added.