Turkey: Israel Earthquake Aid Won't Ease Diplomatic Tension

Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoğlu says Israeli shipment of prefabricated houses to quake-stricken area do not change Ankara's 'principled' demands from Israeli government.

Israeli aid sent to Turkey in wake of a massive earthquake that struck the country will not alleviate tense ties between the two countries, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu indicated on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Turkey accepted aid from Israel for the first time since the 7.2 earthquake struck the country's east, after rejecting several offers by top Israeli officials.

Israel Turkey aid - Hadar Cohen - 26.10.2011
Hadar Cohen

The first Israeli aid convoy that includes seven portable structures, departed Wednesday afternoon from Israel to the eastern Turkish area affected by the quake.

The structures are meant to provide refuge to survivors who lost their homes in the natural disaster.

The aid agreement comes as a rare positive moment in an otherwise stressed Israel-Turkey relationship, one that has taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent months over Israel's 2010 raid of a Turkish Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Last month, Turkey downgraded its diplomatic relations with Israel following Jerusalem's refusal to apologize for the incident.

However, speaking to Turkey's Today's Zaman newspaper on Thursday, the Turkish FM indicated that Ankara's acceptance of Israeli aid did not signal an improvement in diplomatic ties, saying it would not change its principled position.

Speaking with his Jordanian counterpart, Davutoğlu was quoted by Today's Zaman as saying that political conditions remain, referring to Turkey's demand that Israel formally apologize for the 2010 raid, and that Israel lift its blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The structures Israel has sent Turkey are meant to provide refuge to survivors who lost their homes in the natural disaster, with Jerusalem planning to send additional temporary structures in the coming days. Turkey, however, has refused to accept Israeli assistance in rescuing victims from the wreckage.

Turkish authorities delivered more tents after acknowledging initial problems in the distribution of aid for survivors of the 7.2-magnitude quake that shattered at least 2,200 buildings on Sunday.