A senior Turkish envoy sent to Israel by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been meeting with high-ranking officials, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Channel 10 News reported Thursday.
According to the report, the official was sent to Israel by Erdogan in an attempt to normalize ties between Turkey and Israel, which have been strained since Operation Cast Lead in 2008.
In 2010, relations between the two countries took a turn for the worse following the death of eight Turkish nationals and one American of Turkish origin in the naval commando raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which participated in a flotilla aimed at breaking Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
In the aftermath of the raid, Turkey demanded an official apology from the Israeli leadership. As Netanyahu firmly opposes issuing such an apology, claiming Israel acted in self-defense and within its legal rights, efforts to rehabilitate the previously warm ties between two countries have so far run aground.
However, according to Channel 10 News, this latest step by Erdogan — which could not be confirmed by the Prime Minister’s Office — indicates that Ankara is seeking to resume diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, a fellow US ally in the Middle East.
The report said Netanyahu still opposes any apology, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other ministers favor a more conciliatory line, because of a desire to rebuild ties to better deal with the threat posed by Iran.
In April, Turkey hosted international talks between Iran and six world powers centering on Tehran’s nuclear program.