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Turkey offers help on captured Israeli soldier

FM Davutoglu emphasizes importance of reinstating ceasefire; US Secretary of State calls on Turkey, Qataer to secure the release of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin.

Reuters
Latest Update: 08.01.14, 23:13 / Israel News

Turkey will do what it can to help free an Israeli soldier whose capture led to the breakdown of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but the priority should be the reinstatement of a truce, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday.

 

 

"What is important is that the ceasefire is reinstated. To ensure this, together with others, we can take any step that could resolve this Israeli soldier issue. If Turkey can do anything, we will do our best," Davutoglu told reporters.

 

"But if the ceasefire is stopped because an Israeli soldier is kidnapped, somebody should account for the 70 Palestinians killed (today). In our eyes, all people are equal," he said.

 

"This ceasefire was something that we built together and we agreed as a matter of principle that we will not let it crumble," Davutoglu said of his discussion with Kerry, adding that renewed talks would now be held involving Turkey, the United States and Qatar

 

"We'll do what is necessary to get the ceasefire we worked so hard for back on track. We'll put together a framework that is based not on allegations from one side but one that is satisfactory for both sides," he said.

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry, fearing an escalation of violence in Gaza, called on Turkey and Qatar on Friday to use their influence to secure the release of a kidnapped Israeli soldier whose abduction led to the breakdown of a short-lived ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

 

Kerry called Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu soon after being told of the abduction and the killings of two Israeli soldiers by an aide while flying back from a visit to India. The incidents led to the quick breakdown of a ceasefire Kerry had worked hard to broker.

 

"We have urged them, implored them to use their influence to try to get the release of that soldier," a senior State Department official told reporters traveling with Kerry. "Absent that, the risk of this continuing to escalate, leading to further loss of life, is high."

 

The official said he understood the ceasefire broke down about an hour after it began.

 

Kerry also talked with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was to speak to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

 

Another senior US official said the United States was still working with Egypt, which was to be a venue for talks between the parties during the ceasefire, as to what the next step would be.

 

"Obviously, they have willingness to host negotiations but our primary focus here continues to be on determining how to get to a ceasefire," the official said. "The question for everybody at this point is where we go from here, not just the United States, but the international community and that's obviously the major topic of discussion of the secretary's calls.

 

"Given the circumstances on the ground and the violence that's going back and forth, that (a ceasefire) is not something that's currently operable but that's the only viable way in our view that we can see an end to the violence."

 

In his call to Netanyahu, Kerry reiterated Washington's "strong support for Israel's and any country's inherent right to defend itself, its citizens and forces against attacks," particularly during a ceasefire, the first official said.

 

Asked whether the reported violations could have been the work of militants acting unilaterally without higher approval, the official, said:

 

"Our view is that Hamas has security control over the Gaza and if we are going to be negotiating a ceasefire with two sides in a conflict and one of them is Hamas, it's their responsibility to deliver on the assurances that they provide representing their side."

 

The other official said there was "still a great deal we don't know ... but every indication points to a violation by Hamas."

 

First Published: 08.01.14, 20:25

 

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