Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon met Tuesday with a senior member of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party, for the first time since the diplomatic incident in which he humiliated the Turkish ambassador to Israel.
Following his meeting with the new president of the Council of Europe, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Ayalon told Ynet that the issue was raised "neither by me nor by him."
Nonetheless, after the meeting Ayalon was met by Turkish reporters who demanded explanations for the serious incident, which had led to a crisis between the two countries.
Ayalon, who had already apologized for the incident, said that he had changed his point of view about the incident. "The sane countries in the region must moderate the expressions and rhetoric. They must treat each other with respect and mutual decency. We must stop the incitement and attacks."
The deputy foreign minister's entourage reported of a good and friendly atmosphere during the meeting with the Turkish official, who was only elected Monday. The two discussed the hope for restarting the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Ayalon told Ynet that "the meeting was held in a very, very warm atmosphere. I congratulated him for being the first Turkish and Muslim official to be elected as the president of the Council of Europe."
Ayalon added that he had expressed his hope that the council's discussions of the Middle East would be "fair towards Israel and free of incitement."
After the meeting with Çavuşoğlu, Ayalon tried to convey a "business as usual" message and addressed questions presented by the press. He said that "if the Turkish leadership seeks to mediate between Israel and Syria, it must be balanced in its demands of both sides and in the statements it makes to both parties."
According to the deputy foreign minister, "This is a basic thing if they wish to mediate between us and the Syrians."
Ayalon went on to call for direct negotiations with Syria. "We don’t need any mediators at this time," he told two Turkish television channels.
Asked why Israel had barred the Belgian international development minister from visiting Gaza, Ayalon replied, "Gaza has been occupied by Hamas, and this serves Iranian interests, not Palestinian. Any political visit to Gaza bolsters Hamas at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, and this is a real threat for peace."