The relationship between Israel and Turkey is of "regional and global importance," according to Turkish Ambassador to Israel Namik Tan. Speaking at a conference at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies on Thursday, Tan said that the relationship was "not only important to Israel and Turkey... because the ties that bind us are strategic." "The basis of the strategic relations between Israel and Turkey is stable," the ambassador stated. He stressed that the unique bond between the two countries was "of utmost importance to Turkey," and added, "only with Israel and the US do we have such relations. With other country we have very good, deep ties, but they're not strategic relationships." Noting that the positive history between Israel and Turkey dated back to the Ottoman Empire in the 14th Century, Tan reiterated Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan's comments last week that his country was willing to resume mediating negotiations between Israel and Syria "as soon as the two sides wish to continue." "It doesn't matter whether [we're dealing with Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert or [Prime Minister-designate Binyamin] Netanyahu," he said. "I think that peace between the two sides would benefit all parties concerned." Senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad was also in attendance at the INSS conference, as well as former Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Liel. During his address, Gilad praised Turkey as a "cultured, democratic state." Regarding recent criticism in Turkey of the IDF's Operation Cast Lead against Hamas, he stressed that while "profound dialogue between friends" was legitimate, terrorists were responsible for the offensive. Liel, on the other hand, surmised that relations between Israel and Turkey were weathering a "crisis" which he termed "worrying," and called for their immediate repair.