Ayalon: Erdogan victory an opportunity to repair ties

Deputy foreign minister says strong finish by incumbent Turkish PM is a chance to reverse deterioration relations.

Danny Ayalon 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Danny Ayalon 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that the results of Turkish elections on Sunday present a new opportunity to repair relations between Jerusalem and Ankara, but placed the onus for improving ties on the Turks, in an interview with Israel Radio Monday.
Despite a breakdown in previously strong ties the countries had for years, diplomatic relations remain in place, Ayalon noted. "There is a Turkish embassy here and there is an Israeli ambassador in Ankara," he said, subtly reminding that there hasn't been a Turkish ambassador in Tel Aviv for some time.
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"We don't see Turkey as an enemy state," the deputy foreign minister added.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party won a resounding third consecutive election victory Sunday.
Erdogan, whose AK has transformed Muslim Turkey into one of the world's fastest-growing economies and ended a cycle of military coups, won nearly 50 percent of the vote in a parliamentary vote.
Ayalon said that the strong finish of Erdogan presents an opportunity to start anew with Israel. However, he said that it "is up to Ankara to choose which direction to go."
Israel, Ayalon said, "must respect the democratic elections in Turkey just as we expect [the Turkish] to respect the democratic choices of the Israeli people."
Relations with Turkey deteriorated last year after a diplomatic incident between Ayalon and the Turkish ambassador at the time. In January 2010, Ayalon summoned the Turkish ambassador over a Turkish television series that depicted Israeli soldiers in a bad light. When the ambassador arrived at Ayalon's office, the deputy foreign minister told the press in Hebrew to film the ambassador sitting lower than him, to note that they did not shake hands, that there were no refreshments and that only an Israeli flag was on the table.
The meeting caused a diplomatic stir. Several months later, relations between the two countries broke down even further after nine Turkish nationals were killed by IDF soldiers when raiding the Mavi Marmara, which was attempting to break the blockade on Gaza. Turkey has demanded an apology from Jerusalem in order to move on from the incident, something which Israel has thus far refused, saying that the soldiers acted in self defense.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report