Israel could apologize to Turkey, deputy FM says

Danny Ayalon cites Pakistani-American precedent, states that it’s time for Jerusalem to make amends with Ankara

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Danny Ayalon (left) with Turkey's ambassador to Israel, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, during a meeting in 2010. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)
Danny Ayalon (left) with Turkey's ambassador to Israel, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, during a meeting in 2010. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Jerusalem is prepared to mend ties with Ankara, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Thursday, going so far as to express willingness to write a letter of apology to the Turkish government.

“I see some kind of improvement and opportunities” regarding Israel’s relationship with Turkey, which deteriorated following the Mavi Marmara raid in 2010, Ayalon told the Turkish daily Hurriyet.

There is a way to ease the ongoing tension between the countries and rebuild relations, the outgoing deputy minister said, pointing at an “American-Pakistani formula” that “could be a good platform to clear away the issue.”

Ayalon was referring to an incident in which American forces accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, an event that strained the relationship between the countries.

“The Americans sent a letter that was accepted in Pakistan,” Ayalon said, noting that the same idea could be used to mend Israel-Turkey ties.

Ayalon answered “yes” when asked if such a letter was an apology. Based on the text of the letter sent by the US, “I think that should be clear to everyone,” he said.

The deputy foreign minister has been seen as having played a substantive role in Jerusalem’s deteriorating ties with Ankara, after he apparently attempted to publicly shame Turkey’s ambassador to Israel by seating him on a low chair and failing to display a Turkish flag in the room during a 2010 meeting in which he rebuked the envoy for an anti-Israel television series screened in Turkey.

While communication between Ankara and Jerusalem hasn’t been as open and comprehensive as before, the deputy foreign minister said, there were still “lower-level [talks]” and “back channels” being used by the countries.

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