US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to postpone his visit to Gaza in order to prevent disruptions to efforts to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Reports in Turkey said Erdogan refused the request. Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is in Israel to discuss developments in Syria and Iran.
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After meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Kerry said that he has told the Turkish premier it would be advisable to delay his visit explaining that its timing is crucial to the peace process.
Meanwhile, Turkish officials told the al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that Erdogan is not expected to postpone the trip, which is currently set for May, but will nevertheless consider the advice he was given. Abbas on his part believes that Erdogan's planned trip may have a negative effect on the Palestinians.
Ceremony at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brener)
The Turkish officials further added that Erdogan is eager to go ahead with the visit at the set date since it falls on the third anniversary of the IDF raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla.
Ya'alon and Hagel (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Israeli and Turkish representatives are meeting in Ankara Monday to discuss the compensation for the families of the raid victims and the lawsuits against IDF officers. The Israeli delegation is headed by Yossi Ciechanover and National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror.
On Sunday, Defense Secretary Hagel landed in Israel and said that the United States and Israel see "exactly the same" threat from Iran, but differ on when it may reach the point of requiring US or Israeli military action.
Hagel held out hope Sunday for a nonmilitary way to ending the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, but he also emphasized Washington's willingness to let Israel decide whether and when it might strike Tehran in self-defense.
Yoav Zitun contributed to this report
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