Former Prime Minister Olmert: Turkey Is Not Israel's Enemy

Olmert says he is very familiar with Turkish leadership and that diplomatic ties must be restored, responding to crisis following release of UN report on 2010 Gaza flotilla events.

Turkey is not Israel's enemy, Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed Sunday, saying that he is very familiar with the current Turkish leadership and called on Jerusalem to mend its diplomatic crisis with Ankara.

"[Israel's] relations with Turkey are a national interest and should not be taken lightly," said the former prime minister in response to the deepening crisis between Israel and Turkey after the release of a UN-commissioned report on the events of the 2010 Gaza flotilla.

Ehud Olmert with Erdogan - Getty Images - 2008
Getty Images

"I am glad the Israeli response in recent days was restrained. Turkey served as a bridge for our interests and I believe this can happen again in the future. Turkey is not Israel's enemy and Israel is not Turkey's enemy – Turkey has helped Israel in the past with important classified issues and this can happen again," Olmert urged.

The recent crisis in Israel-Turkey relations deepened after the UN-commissioned report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid was leaked to the New York Times, foiling a last-ditch effort to patch up relations between the two countries. Turkey then announced a series of measures against Israel, beginning with the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and the downgrading of bilateral relations to the level of second secretary.

Meanwhile, Olmert also called on Israel to restart negotiations with the Palestinians, warning that now may be the best chance Israel will have for peace.

"I know [the current Palestinian leadership] better than anyone, we met for many years. There will not be a Palestinian leadership that would want peace more than the current one," Olmert said.