Officials from Turkey and Israel are meeting secretly to restore the relations between the two nations, according to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Turkey and Israel, long-time allies, sank into a diplomatic crisis last year when a flotilla of ships seeking to break the blockade and deliver goods to Gaza last year was attacked by Israeli commandos, resulting in the deaths of nine Turkish people.
Since that incident, Turkey has demanded an apology as well as compensation for the families of the victims – Israel countered that its military personnel acted in self-defense.
Haaretz indicated that senior officials in Jerusalem, Ankara as well as the U.S., confirmed the existence of the secret negotiations.
Haaretz also said the talks involve an Israeli official on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlio?lu – who is known to be a strong advocate of mending ties with Israel.
Indeed, immediately after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an's Justice and Development Party won an impressive third straight electoral victory in Turkey last week, Netanyahu congratulated Erdogan and praised Turkey's “free and democratic” elections. He also said he was interested in improving ties with Ankara.
Haaretz stated that in a letter to Erdogan, Netanyahu wrote: “My government will be happy to work with the new Turkish government on finding a resolution to all outstanding issues between our countries, in the hope of re-establishing our cooperation and renewing the spirit of friendship which has characterized the relations between our peoples for many generations.”