Netanyahu in No Rush to Restore Ties with Turkey. Ankara Can’t Wait
For more than five years, the Turkish government treated Israel to a non-stop stream of abuse. After severing relations over the 2010 pro-Hamas flotilla affair, Ankara posed one prohibitive condition after another for the restoration of normal ties between the two countries. Turkey also permitted the Palestinian Hamas terrorist organization to set up a base of operations in Istanbul.
Now, Turkey is falling over itself to mend its fences with Israel and put relations back on a normal footing
Israel however is in no hurry.
In the past week, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu several times, showering him with give-and-take political and security propositions that would open the door to burying the hatchet and restoring normal diplomatic relations.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources in Ankara and Jerusalem reveal Davutoglu’s arguments as follows:
1. Turkey and Israel have common interests in the outcome of the Syrian conflict.
2. Turkey has no wish to see Iranian forces ranged along its border with Syria, any more than Israel would welcome Iranian troops on its northern border under a Russian air umbrella.
3. Both countries are against leaving Syrian President Bashar Assad in power.
4. Both share a pressing need to weaken the pro-Iranian Hizballah, especially now that the Lebanese Shiite group has moved into Iraq.
(See the article in this issue on the Hizballah and IRGC bases on the Saudi border)
5. To accelerate the restoration of ties, Turkey is offering to concede its longstanding demand for Israel to lift the naval blockade against Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which prevents Turkish ships from reaching the Palestinian enclave.
Instead, Davutoglu proposed creating a bilateral mechanism with Turkey on the same lines as Israel’s arrangement with Qatar. As DEBKA Weekly’s sources have disclosed, Qatar has appointed Mohammed Al-Emadi as its ambassador to Gaza. He commutes between the Hamas enclave and Tel Aviv as a kind of coordinator. Ankara suggests appointing a consul for the same functions.
6. He asked Netanyahu to reconsider Israel’s stipulation for the Hamas office in Istanbul to be shuttered before relations can be improved. The Turkish government can’t meet this demand, he said. The Turkish prime minister insisted that Ankara had met Jerusalem halfway by deporting Saleh al-Arouri, the controller of Hamas terror networks on the West Bank. He also pointed out that Israel had not broken off diplomatic relations with Jordan when Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal set up shop in Amman; or with Egypt, when Meshaal’s deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, relocated to Cairo.
7. The Turkish prime minister put in a strong bid for the purchase of gas from Israel’s offshore fields.
Their last conversation ended with the Israeli prime minister promising a serious effort to promote restored relations, DEBKA Weekly’s sources in Jerusalem report.
At the same time, he is not rushing into a final decision.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is adamantly opposed to any improvement before the Turks shut down the Hamas office in Istanbul. Concession on this point, he maintains, would damage Israel’s standing and relations with other Muslim countries, especially Egypt, with which Israel coordinates all its steps in Gaza.