Turkish Parliament Speaker rejects Knesset invite

Rivlin sent invitation to Turkish speaker in November; Çiçek says he will only come to Knesset after relations normalized.

Knesset 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Knesset 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The speaker of the Turkish Parliament rejected an invitation to visit from Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, saying that he will only come after relations between the two countries are normalized.
Rivlin’s office sent a letter inviting Speaker Cemil Çiçek to the Knesset in late November and never received an official response.
The letter congratulated Çiçek on his appointment to the position, “even when our countries have differences of opinion.”
Rivlin wrote that, as democracies and “ancient nations,” the bond and cooperation between Turkey and Israel should remain strong.
“When you deem opportune, dear colleague, we shall be glad to host you at the Knesset, our shrine of democracy, at any time convenient to you.”
He hopes Çiçek will “read these lines in person,” and send a “direct response.”
Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Wednesday that Çiçek declined Rivlin’s invitation.
Çiçek said he will only visit the Knesset when relations between the countries “become more favorable,” adding that Israel is aware of Turkey’s “expectations” to allow for normalization.
Israeli-Turkish ties have been strained since an Israeli naval 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.
Turkey has demanded an apology from Israel in exchange for improved relations, which the government has refused, citing a UN committee that declared the IDF’s naval blockade on Gaza legal.