"In the neighborhood we live in – Israel could not find a better friend than Turkey," Turkish Ambassador to Israel, Namik Tan, said on Thursday evening at a conference held at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
He added that Ankara is willing to resume its role of mediator in the indirect talks between Israel and
Syria if both countries agree to return to the negotiations table. "The strategic relationship with Israel is of key importance to Turkey," said Tan.
"These relations are not only important to Israel and Turkey. They are important on a regional and global scale, and their foundations are steadfast. We do not have strategic relationships with many countries, only with Israel and the United States. We share the same cultural prism."
The Turkish ambassador chose not to address the recent tensions between Jerusalem and Ankara, or the harsh statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in regards to Operation Cast Lead.
"We are as transparent as Israel is transparent. No one should take the relationship between the countries for granted. I will refrain from going into who said what. I don't think it's relevant. We must look forwards," said Tan.
'We should learn from Turkey'
Tan said that Ankara believes Hamas should be included in the Palestinian process. "Hamas is a reality there (in Gaza), there is no possibility of making peace without it. We know that they have done unacceptable things, but we think they should be included."
Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, also spoke at the conference. Gilad praised Turkey as an important example of a country fighting terror.
"Turkey taught Syria to speak Turkish. The Syrians were harboring terror groups like the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), and allowed the presence of training camps in the (Bekaa) Valley. The Turks had enough, and they made it so clear to the Syrians that Damascus willingly cut off all support for terrorism against Turkey. We had better learn from them," said Gilad.
As for Turkey's ties to Iran, he said: "Turkey's public policy in regards to Iran is cautious, because the two have deep economic and cultural ties. In regards to terrorism – Turkey's policy is to prevent terrorism of any kind and against any entity. Turkey's determined battle is an asset of the highest degree for the State of Israel."