Fire warms up ties with Turkey

Ankara sends firefighting aircraft to Israel in attempt to extinguish raging blaze; Greece, Cyprus, Spain also lend support.

Erdogan flag 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Erdogan flag 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Carmel fire briefly thawed Israel’s tense relationship with Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.
On Friday, in a rare moment of warmth, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and thanked him for sending two airplanes to help battle the Carmel blaze.
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“We very much appreciate this mobilization and I am certain that it will be an opening toward improving relations between our two countries, Turkey and Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement he released to the press after the call.
He noted that the Turkish prime minister expressed his willingness to help, as well as both his country’s and his own personal condolences to the families of the victims.
Netanyahu also publicly thanked Erdogan in two separate statements on Friday, and said that Israel would find a way to express its gratitude to Turkey.
The phone call is assumed to be the first conversation between the two leaders since Netanyahu took office in March 2009. Relations between the two countries have been particularly tense since Israeli soldiers killed nine violent Turkish activists aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla at the end of May.
Erdogan cautioned reporters after the call not to confuse Turkey’s desire to help Israel in a moment of crisis with its continued anger over the flotilla incident, for which Turkey continues to demand an apology.
Separately, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spoke with Netanyahu on Saturday in the first such conversation since direct negotiations between the two leaders broke down at the end of September.
Abbas expressed his condolences to the Israeli people over the lives lost in the Carmel fire and offered whatever assistance was necessary.
He also volunteered to send three fire trucks to the area.
The conversation between the two was warm and friendly.
Netanyahu thanked Abbas and said that neighbors should always help each other. He added that he had decided to establish a new system using fire fighting planes that would also be available to the PA if the need arose.