The Turkish paper Today’s Zaman reported yesterday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel and Turkey should repair bilateral relations due to the instability in their region.
According to the Turkish daily, speaking with Turkish reporters in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said: “In a region where instability reigns, Israel and Turkey are two quite stable countries. I believe in (our) common interest.”
Later in the report a “high-level” official is quoted as saying that the two countries have been trying to find a formula to mend bilateral ties, but as of yet efforts remain fruitless. The official added that Israel is open to proposals from third parties regarding such a formula.
Relations between the two countries deteriorated rapidly after Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara vessel in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, killing nine Turks in clashes with activists on board the ship.
Numerous attempts by Israel and Turkey to rekindle their once-close relationship have since failed. Israel has rejected Ankara’s demands for a formal apology, compensation for the families of those killed in the raid and end to the Gaza blockade. There was no indication in the report that Netanyahu had changed this stance.
While the timing of Netanyahu’s meeting with Turkish journalists is unclear, both Israel and Turkey share a border with Syria. Turkey has called for Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to resign after he failed to heed calls for reform. Turkey has since harboured Syrian rebels and tens of thousands of refugees along its border with Syria.
In Israel, Syria’s 16-month-old conflict has heightened concern that its chemical arsenal could fall into the hands of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Islamist group allied to Iran and Assad.