Israel fails in new effort to mend ties with Turkey

Israel fails in new effort to mend ties with Turkey

Netanyahu’s security adviser held talks with Ankara’s Foreign Ministry director in Rome three weeks ago, to no avail

An Israeli-initiated effort to heal ties with Turkey, which saw Israeli officials meet their Turkish counterparts in Rome three weeks ago, ended in failure.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, accompanied by former Foreign Ministry director general Joseph Ciechanover, held talks in the Italian capital with Turkish Foreign Ministry Director Feridun Sinirlioğlu, to try to formulate terms for easing the rift between the two countries that has strained relations over the past three years.

But the contacts did not produce a breakthrough, Channel 2 reported Saturday night, and the Israelis came home empty handed.

Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni made her own effort to ease the strains by seeking a meeting in New York late last year with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, but he refused to see her, the news report said.

It added that Israel is feeling the pressure to mend the rift ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit here next month, and that Livni’s decision to join Netanyahu’s nascent coalition might make the task easier. Obama is said to have urged both sides privately to heal their ties.

Similar talks took place in Geneva in November.

Israel has reportedly been prepared to apologize to Turkey for “operational errors” during its fatal raid on a May 2010 Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza.

As a condition to normalizing diplomatic ties with Israel, Turkey has demanded that Israel apologize for the death of nine activists who were killed when Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara ship during a takeover operation in the Mediterranean.

The aid ship, chartered by the Islamist IHH organization, was headed to the Gaza Strip in defiance of Israel’s naval siege on the Hamas-run area.

Turkey has also demanded Israel lift the siege, but is prepared to drop that demand, a report in Turkey’s Radikal said last week. Israel is prepared to offer compensation to the families of those killed, according to the report.

Such a deal was reportedly under consideration in the summer of 2011, but was scuttled in part because of objections by then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. Now facing trial on corruption charges, Liberman is no longer in government.

JTA contributed to this report.

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