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January 21, 2013 10:35 am

Bennett to Hurriyet Daily: “We Have to Find Ways to Talk to Turkey and Reduce Tension”

avatar by Zach Pontz

Naftali Bennet. Photo:

Naftali Bennett, the rising star of right-wing Israeli politics, told the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News over the weekend that Turkey is an important ally and steps must be made to heal the division between the two countries.

“Turkey is an important ally for us. We have to find ways to talk to Turkey and reduce tension,” Bennett said after an election rally in Kiryat Moztkin, a city in northern Israel.

However, Bennett did not go into specifics, making no mention, for instance, of the Turkish demand for an apology and payment of compensation for those killed by Israeli forces during a raid on the flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza in 2010.

“I don’t want to go into the specific details about Turkey. We will talk about it when the time is right,” he is quoted as having said.

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Bennett, a former entrepreneur who spent many years living in the United States, has made headlines with past statements that he would defy orders to evacuate settlements and that he rejects the establishment of a Palestinian state.

However, this election season has proven kind to Bennett and his Jewish Home party. According to recent polls, his party is expected to become the third largest in Israel,  after the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, which is allied with the former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, and Labor, the largest opposition party. Bennett’s Jewish Home has three chairs in the outgoing Knesset, but is expected to increase this number by 10-15 seats.

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