Israel must ‘clear blood’ to mend ties -Turkey
TURKEY: Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted
on an Israeli apology and compensation over a deadly raid on a
Gaza-bound aid ship in May as the only way to mend bilateral ties,
Anatolia news agency reported.
His remarks followed media speculation that the crisis between the
one-time allies might thaw in the wake of Turkey’s dispatch of two
helicopters to help fight a devastating forest fire in northern Israel,
which claimed 41 lives.
“Some say we should turn a new page... An apology must be offered
first, compensation must be paid first,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a
speech in Sivas, central Turkey, according to Anatolia.
“If a hand is extended, we will not leave it in the air... but we
want to see that this hand is extended with sincerity.
“No one should expect us to keep silent and forfeit law and justice
as long as the blood spilled in the Mediterranean is not cleared,” he
Erdogan, who heads a conservative government hailing from a banned
Islamist movement, described Ankara’s assistance for the fire-fighting
effort in Israel as “our humanitarian and Islamic duty.”
Bilateral ties plunged into a deep crisis on May 31 when Israeli
forces killed nine Turks as they raided an activist ship carrying aid to
the blockaded Gaza Strip in an international campaign led by a Turkish
Relations had been already strained over Israel’s devastating war on
Gaza last year, amid Erdogan’s frequent outbursts against the Jewish
state and his defence of radical Palestinian group Hamas.
On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Turkey
for its help in the fire disaster and telephoned Erdogan to convey his
“We very much appreciate this mobilisation and I am certain that it
will be an opening toward improving relations between our two countries,
Turkey and Israel,” he said in a statement.
The lingering chill was highlighted only a day before when Turkey’s
interior minister said Israel seemed to be “benefitting” from the impact
of US cables disclosed by the Internet whistle-blower WikiLeaks as he
questioned whose interests the leaks served.
The cables revealed US and Israeli unease over Turkey’s close
contacts with Iran and Erdogan’s criticism of Israel.
Erdogan “hates Israel” on religious grounds, a cable by the US
embassy in Ankara said, including also the Israeli ambassador’s
description of Erdogan as “a fundamentalist.”
Turkey and Israel had enjoyed a decade of close ties since 1996 when
they signed a military cooperation agreement.
Ankara, Monday, AFP