Turkey's Erdogan Offers Condolences Over Israeli Deaths in Istanbul Attack

Amid ongoing negotiations on reconciliation between two countries, Erdogan stresses need for international action against terrorism, wishes speedy recovery to Israelis wounded in attack in letter to Israeli president Rivlin.

Israeli soldiers carry caskets containing the bodies of three Israelis killed in a terror attack in Istanbul, Turkey, as they arrive in Israel, March 20, 2016.
Moti Milrod

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a condolence letter to his Israeli counterpart on Sunday in which he expressed sorrow over the three Israelis killed in this weekend’s terror attack in Istanbul and wished a speedy recovery to the Israelis who were wounded.

“With yesterday's heinous attack, it has again been seen most clearly that it is an absolute necessity for the international community to conduct a joint, united and determined fight against terrorism, which targets the whole of humanity and fundamental human values and constitutes a crime against humanity,” Erdogan wrote in his letter to President Reuven Rivlin.

“I would like to convey my deepest condolences to the people of Israel and to the families of Israeli citizens who lost their lives in this treacherous attack which happened in Istanbul, where they were visiting our country to get better acquainted with our culture, and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” he added.

Erdogan’s letter arrived a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a similar letter from his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu.

The three Israelis killed in Istanbul suicide bombing: Jonathan Shor, Simcha Damari and Avraham Goldman.
Courtesy

Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold landed in Istanbul and met with his Turkish counterpart, Feridun Sinirlioglu. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that Gold thanked his colleague for the way the Turkish government had aided Israeli nationals after the attack.

“Both men said there is no justification for any use of violence as a tool to advance a political agenda,” Nahshon added. “Turkey and Israel are on a common front in the battle against terror and in coping with shared regional challenges.”

Nahshon declined to say whether Gold and Sinirlioglu also discussed the negotiations over a deal to end the crisis in bilateral relations that began with Israel’s botched raid on a Turkish-sponsored flotilla to the Gaza Strip in May 2010. Gold is not a member of the Israeli negotiating team, and the talks on this issue have been led by Netanyahu’s special envoy, Joseph Ciechanover. 

Nevertheless, Gold’s visit to Istanbul had symbolic significance in light of this crisis, because this is the first time in five years an Israeli Foreign Ministry director general has visited Turkey.

Negotiations on the reconciliation deal are continuing, but so far, the disputes that have been holding it up remain unresolved. The negotiating teams are slated to meet again in early April.

Though the terms of the agreement relating to the flotilla itself have been finalized, Netanyahu has refused to sign it as long as Turkey refuses to shut down the Hamas military command based in that country.  Israel claims that Hamas’ offices in Turkey help to finance, plan and carry out anti-Israel terror attacks in the West Bank.