Israel and Turkey Seek to Reconcile Ahead of Obama’s Visit
Israeli and Turkish officials have been engaging in dialogue over the past few weeks, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported.
The head of Israel’s National Security Council recently met with a high-ranking Turkish Foreign Ministry official in Rome at the behest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli-Turkish ties have been severely strained since the May 2010 Turkish flotilla incident in which Israeli commandoes killed nine activists—including eight Turks and one Turkish-American, who violently attacked the commandoes as they boarded the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship. A UN report on the incident concluded that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal and confirmed the Turkish activists’ initial attack on the Israelis. Turkey, however, has demanded an apology from Israel over the incident and an end to the Gaza blockade.
Turkish reports indicate that Israel may include a “partial apology” ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit in March. In return, Turkey may forgo its demands to end the Gaza blockade. Experts believe that both nations seek to return to normal relations, especially in light of the growing regional instability.
In November 2012, a Turkish court began a trial of four high-ranking Israeli officers in absentia for their involvement in the incident.
A top Turkish government official recently said that the trial is “political, not really judicial,” according to the Jerusalem Post.