Erdogan: Israeli, Turkish Intelligence Held Talks on Gaza Cease-fire With Hamas

Comments by Turkey's PM point to possible meeting between officials in Cairo, the second such contact over Hamas and Gaza in the last year.

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

The Mossad and Turkish intelligence held talks concerning negotiations to achieve a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel over the last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday. Mossad chief Tamir Pardo and the head of Turkish intelligence Hakan Fidan were both in Cairo at the beginning of the week, and most likely met there to discuss the situation in Gaza.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara before setting out to the meeting of the eight largest Muslim countries, or D8, in Pakistan, Erdogan said that "Turkish and Israeli intelligence were in contact over the Gaza crisis."

However, Erdogan added that contacts did not include diplomatic issues and didn't deal with Israel-Turkey ties, adding: "We won't hold diplomatic talks with Israel unless something out of the ordinary happens."

The Turkish premier, who visited Egypt last Sunday to discuss developing events in Gaza, was joined by Fidan. Upon his return to Ankara, Erdogan left the Turkish intelligence chief and Omar Celik, his deputy at the ruling AKP party and another of his confidents, in the Egyptian capital. Celik at one time served as Turkish President Abdullah Gul's Middle East advisor and was in charge of diplomatic ties with Israel in the president's office.

Pardo was also in Cairo on Sunday, arriving as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emissary and hoping to meet with the head of Egyptian intelligence Raafar Shehata to discuss the terms of the cease-fire agreement that was forming. Fidan and Celik were ostensibly involved in cease-fire talks, indicating that Erdogan's comments hinted at a meeting that may have taken place between the two Turkish officials and Pardo in the Egyptian capital.

When Fidan was named head of Ankara's intelligence in 2012, Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed fears that the newly appointed official, considered a close Erdogan aide, held close ties with Iran. At the time, Barak indicated he feared that sensitive Israeli secrets could leak from Turkey to the Iranian regime.

The apparent meeting marks the second time in which Israel and Turkey engage in talks on issues regarding Hamas and Gaza in the last year. In the weeks prior to the completion of the prisoner exchange deal geared at releasing then abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, David Meida, who served as Netanyahu's emissary on the issue, met with Fidan, asking for his help in concluding the deal.

Meidan, who previously served as the Mossad's director of foreign affairs and knew Fidan and other officials in Turkish intelligence, wished to use their help in order to press Hamas into signing the deal as well as to accept a group of Palestinian prisoners into Turkish territory. The agreement, however, stipulated that those prisoners would then be deported to a third country.

One of those deported was female terrorist Amna Muna, who seduced Israeli teen Ofir Rahum to enter Ramallah in 2001, where he was murdered by Fatah militants.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing a meeting of Muslim religious leaders from Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, Nov. 19. 2012.Credit: AP
Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Jan. 1, 2012.Credit: AP

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