Netanyahu to Erdogan: Israel and Turkey Should Renew Spirit of Friendship

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sends letter to Turkey's Erdogan urging normalization of ties between the two countries; Communication comes in the wake of secret talks between Israel and Turkey.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a personal letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulating him on his victory in the Turkish elections last week, and expressing his wish to heal the diplomatic rift between Turkey and Israel.

The letter was sent a few days ago, after much deliberation, according to a senior official in Jerusalem, with approval from the prime minister's office. Parts of the letter were published on the website of Turkish newspaper Zaman in an article on the secret contacts between Israel and Turkey.

Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuCredit: AP

In the letter, Netanyhu said he wanted to normalize relations with Turkey, and emphasized the good relations the two countries have had in the past.

"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," the letter said.

This morning Haaretz revealed that Netanyahu and Erdogan's offices have been holding secret talks in an attempt to heal the rift between Turkey and Israel, with the Americans' support.

A source in the Turkish Foreign Ministry and a U.S. official confirmed that talks are being held, though in Israel the prime minister and foreign minister's aides declined to comment.
The talks are being held between an Israeli official on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, a firm supporter of rehabilitating ties with Israel.

Talks are also being held between the Israeli representative on the UN inquiry committee on last year's Gaza flotilla, Yosef Ciechanover, and Turkey's representative on the committee, Ozdem Sanberk. The two, who have been working together for several months on the UN committee, pass on messages between Israel and Turkey and have taken pains to draft understandings to end the crisis.

In addition, the U.S. administration has held talks with senior Turkish officials, mainly to foil the flotilla to Gaza due later this month, but also in a bid to improve relations with Israel.

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