National Security Council chief Yaakov Amidror met with the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry three weeks ago in Rome in secret efforts to reconcile between the two countries, Channel 2 reported on Saturday. The Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the report.
Also present at that meeting was former Foreign Ministry Director Dr. Joseph Ciechanover, who served as Israel’s representative to the United Nations committee that investigated the 2010 Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla incident, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed and several Israeli soldiers were wounded, setting off the cooling of relations between the former allies.
After the incident, Turkish officials demanded an official apology, compensation to the victims’ families and an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip as preconditions for the normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman publicly declared that Israel would not apologize, which led Turkey to reduce the level of relations with Israel to the lowest diplomatic rank.
Netanyahu has apparently secretly tried a number of times to reach a compromise with Turkey. He has sent representatives in an attempt to find a solution, but all efforts have failed.
According to the Channel 2 report, pressure on Israel to resolve the conflict with Turkey has escalated leading up to U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel in March.
Channel 2 also reported that in Sept. 2012, Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni tried to initiate a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, but her request was denied.
Meanwhile, the Turkish daily newspaper Radikal reported that Israel may apologize for “operational mistakes” during the flotilla incident before Obama arrives for his visit. This “partial apology” is apparently the result of secret negotiations between the two countries.
Israel has expressed readiness to meet the demand to pay compensation, and Radikal’s report added that Turkey has decided to overlook the condition to end the blockade.
Various experts have noted that Israel and Turkey share a common interest in a return to normalized relations and need to coordinate their efforts in response to developments in Syria.