Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Yosef Ciechanover, the Israeli representative to the UN committee probing Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla met on Monday for the second time in two days in a bid to revive bilateral ties, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.
A Turkish diplomatic source told the newspaper, "If someone extends us a friendly hand for a solution to problems, we do not leave that hand in the air."
Referring to the assistance Turkey provided Israel during the huge inferno in the Carmel region, another Turkish diplomat told Hurriyet, “It is certain that the ‘fire diplomacy’ has encouraged the diplomatic contact. These kinds of situations sometimes help break the ice.”
Turkey has demanded that Israel apologize for the death of nine Turkish citizens during the May 31 raid and compensate the families of those who were killed.
Raid on Gaza-bound Turkish ship (Archive photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for sending two firefighting planes to help douse the fire in north Israel and expressed his hope that the gesture would help mend the ties between the countries.
Erdogan, for his part, called the assistance a humanitarian gesture and said Turkey’s desire to help Israel in a moment of crisis should not be confused with its continued anger over the flotilla incident.
Hurriyet quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the climate during Monday's talks was better than it was during the first attempt at rapprochement following the flotilla incident - the secret talks in June between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Israeli Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.
"The time is different now,” a diplomatic source told the Turkish daily, adding that the fact that Netanyahu launched a personal initiative to promote diplomatic ties with Turkey is a reason to be optimistic.
Other officials, the newspaper said, claim that the leaking of the “secret” Geneva talks to the press is an attempt by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to block the reconciliation process.
Following Sunday's meeting Ciechanover Sinirlioğlu, the Haaretz daily reported that Israeli and Turkish diplomats had drafted an agreement according to which Israel would apologize to Turkey for the events of the Gaza flotilla and compensate it accordingly, and in exchange Turkey would return its ambassador to Tel-Aviv and agree to appoint a new Israeli envoy in Ankara.
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