Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon
Photo: Reuters

Deputy foreign minister: Avoid crisis with Turkey

Day after tensions with Turkey reach new level with cancellation of joint air force drill, Jerusalem sources try to calm political atmosphere, and Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon says, 'Our interest is not to reach friction, crisis with Turkey, who we consider important strategic partner'

"Our interest is not to reach a point of friction or crisis with Turkey. We consider Turkey an important strategic partner of Israel's and an anchor of stability," Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said Sunday night, in hopes of calming the storm that followed Turkey's decision to bar Israel from an air force drill, leading to the cancelation of the entire event.


Despite the deputy minister's comments, senior official in the defense and foreign ministries said the drill's cancelation should not be overlooked. "The incident occurred. We cannot accept this, and we should also maintain our national pride. We should follow closely and see what Ankara is doing, in the formula of 'respect him but suspect him'," a source said.


Ayalon hinted that the Turks also have something to lose from the move: "The commitment to strategic partnership is two-sided. It is important for both sides to maintain the meaningful strategic bond in Israel's ties with the Turkish government, which has proven to be moderate in the past."


Ayalon's comments reflect the growing perception in Jerusalem, and while the Prime Minister's Office and the defense minister's office, as well as the Foreign Ministry are displeased with Turkey's behavior in recent months, officials now hope to calm the storm.


Ayalon expressed concern with the process taking place in Turkey's attitude towards Israel and the West in general, and is ready to address this concern in public. The prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister, who is currently visiting Kazakhstan, have maintained quiet on the sensitive issue.


According to a senior official, the ministers' silence is mean to prevent the inflammation of the most recent incident and to stop the conflict between Jerusalem and Ankara from growing.


Jerusalem officials have preferred to view the glass as half full, despite the cancelation of Sunday's drill, and said it must not be forgotten that Turkey remains a veteran member of NATO and that Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government continues to push forward with its efforts to join the European Union.


The officials say this situation keeps a strategic relationship with Israel – which, despite everything, maintains its stability – on the Turkish agenda.


The sources say this relationship is built on mutual security, political and economic ties.


In addition, the officials said it the real threats should not be forgotten. "Iran is not just a threat to Israel and NATO – with Turkey included – is well aware of this. We must find a way to restore relations," a source said.


פרסום ראשון: 10.12.09, 00:51
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