Netanyahu to Prevent Further Deterioration in Israel-Turkey Ties, Source Says

Top official says PM, top ministers agree on remaining silent in face of Turkish PM Erdogan's recent verbal assaults against Israeli policy.

Israel is not interested in further aggravating its already deteriorated ties with Turkey, a senior Israeli official said on Wednesday, adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior ministers have decided to refrain from responding to recent verbal assaults by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The official's comments were made following a meeting Netanyahu assembled with his eight senior ministers earlier Wednesday to discuss the serious deterioration in relations with Turkey as well as the diplomatic and legal campaign Turkey is planning against Israel in the near future.

Emil Salman

The diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey has been deepening recently, after Israel refused to apologize for an Israel Defense Forces raid on the 2010 Gaza flotilla, in which nine Turkish citizens were killed.

The meeting of the senior cabinet members followed discussions at the Foreign Ministry and in the IDF regarding the crisis with Turkey and its implications.

In the meeting Netanyahu convened, the eight ministers were expected to be given a briefing on the situation from the heads of the intelligence community and the Foreign Ministry regarding additional potential scenarios if the situation escalates.

On Tuesday, during a speech before the Arab League, Erdogan attacked Israeli policy and said that the mentality of the Israeli government is the barrier to peace in the Middle East.

Speaking with Haaretz following the meeting, a senior official said that Netanyahu and the top ministers agreed on remaining silent in face of Erdogan's recent assaults on Israel, adding that the Israeli leaders said they would do whatever possible to prevent ties with Turkey from deteriorating further.

Netanyahu's reported desire to avoid an escalation with Ankara was expressed in a conversation Monday in Jerusalem with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, when he told his German guest that he wished to calm tensions with Turkey as much as possible.

The eight senior ministers were expected to be joined by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, in light of the assessment that Turkey will soon launch a legal initiative against Israel.

The Turkish government rejected the report of the Palmer committee, the United Nations' panel that investigated the Israel Navy's confrontation with a Turkish flotilla ship that was attempting last year to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.

The Turks also rejected the Palmer committee's conclusion that the Israeli blockade is legal, and are expected to ask the International Court of Justice in the Hague for a legal opinion on the issue.