Same demands. Davutoglu
Photo: AP
Mediating. Ben-Eliezer
Photo: Shaul Golan

Turkey reiterates demands for amends by Israel

Ankara official confirms Brussels meeting between FM Davutoglu, Minister Ben-Eliezer, says Turkey's top diplomat demanded Israel apologize, pay compensation, agree to UN inquiry into flotilla raid

Turkey told Israel at face-to-face talks in Brussels this week what it should do to mend ties damaged when Israeli commandos stormed a Gaza-bound ship more than a month ago, Turkish officials said on Thursday.


Confirming that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer met on Wednesday, a Turkish official said, without giving details, that Ankara's demands for Israel to make amends remained the same.


Once Israel's closest Muslim ally, Turkey has said it wants Israel to apologize, pay compensation, agree to a UN inquiry into the incident and lift the blockade of 1.6 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.


"Davutoglu reiterated the steps Turkey expects to be taken within this frame, for the improvement of ties," Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told Reuters on Thursday.


Nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed when Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara on May 31 as part of an operation to stop a flotilla headed for Israeli-blockaded Gaza.


Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel, cancelled joint military operations and barred Israeli military aircraft from Turkish airspace after the incident.


The United States wants Israel and Turkey, whose earlier friendship had benefited US policy in the Middle East, to patch up the dispute.


President Barack Obama met Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Toronto on Sunday and is due to meet Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on July 6.


Israel has opened its own inquiry into what happened when its marines stormed the Mavi Marmara, but has maintained that they opened fire only after a boarding party was attacked by activists wielding clubs and knives.


Israel says the Gaza blockade is needed to choke off the supply of arms to Hamas Islamists who rule the enclave.


The UN Security Council and a host of Muslim countries condemned the Israeli action.


Relations between Israel and Turkey have been on a downward spiral since Prime Minister Erdogan spoke out forcefully against an Israeli offensive in Gaza at the end of 2008.


The two countries had forged a friendship in the 1990s largely based on military cooperation and intelligence sharing, though trade also prospered.


Turkey has improved relations with neighbors such as Iran and Syria in recent years and Erdogan became a popular figure among Muslim countries for championing the Palestinian cause.


פרסום ראשון: 07.01.10, 17:53
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