Peres, Erdogan
Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israel President Shimon Peres. Photo by AP
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President Shimon Peres sent extended his condolences on Sunday to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the passing of his mother, saying the news of her death was received with much sadness.

“From personal experience I know the deep sense of grief of feeling like an orphan, and the boundless sorrow of your loss,” Peres wrote in a letter to Erdogan.

The president then asked the Turkish prime minister to accept his “profound condolences and sympathy”.

Tenzile Erdogan, who was 83, died at the hospital on Friday, days after a gall bladder operation. Thousands attended her funeral, and Erdogan, who helped carry the coffin along with President Abudullah Gul, was seen weeping.

Peres’s condolences are particularly noteworthy in light of the recent deterioration in ties between Israel and Turkey. Tensions escalated last month after Israel refused to apologize for a deadly Gaza flotilla raid in May of last year, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed.

The release of the UN-sponsored Palmer Report in September on the raid, which deemed Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza legal, exacerbated tensions further, and Turkey has refused to accept its findings. Shortly after the report’s release Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel to the lowest possible level, expelling Israel's ambassador to Turkey, Gabby Levy, and his deputy, Ella Afek.