The Deputy to the Turkish ambassador to Israel said Friday that no decision had been made about the members of the delegation set to arrive in Israel early next week to examine the construction work at the Mughrabi Gate in Jerusalem. The official was responding to earlier reports that Turkey was considering sending its senior foreign affairs advisor, Ahmet Davutoglu, to lead the delegation.
Turkey to inspect Mughrabi excavation
The official told the Jerusalem Post that Davutoglu was not mentioned in meetings regarding the members of the Turkish mission.
Army Radio had reported that Davutoglu, was close to the Hamas leadership in Damascus and had initiated the visit of Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Mashaal to Ankara following the movement's election victory in January 2006.
Army Radio also quoted officials who had worked with Davutoglu in recent years stressing that he held a pro-Palestinian stance and was not considered to be a friend of Israel.
Nevertheless, the Turkish Embassy official told the Post, "Davutoglu is one of the official advisors to the Turkish prime minister and has always expressed a neutral and constructive attitude towards Israel."
The official went on to say that Davutoglu had equally good relations with the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert deflected criticism of his compliance with the Turkish demands to send the team of inspectors and said that the delegation would not supervise the excavation work but was coming "merely to get an impression."
"We have nothing to hide," said Olmert. "The construction work itself is being carried out outside the Temple Mount and does not damage any place that is holy to Muslims," he said.