(Communicated by the Deputy Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
On Sunday, 6 December 2009, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon met with a delegation of Turkey’s most influential media figures and academics on the issue of Turkish-Israel relations.
Ayalon told the delegation that relations between the two nations were back on track and as good as ever despite the recent harsh rhetoric. He rejected associating good relations with Turkey based on the conflict with Syria, Hizbullah or Hamas. "We can not allow them to have a veto on our strategic relations," Ayalon said.
On the question of Turkey’s role as mediator between Syria and Israel, Ayalon called on the Syrians to meet Israel face to face and without third party mediation. "We appreciate Turkish efforts and the previous talks did not fail because of Turkey but rather because of Syrian intransigence. However, if in the future we make progress with the Syrians and we will seek assistance from a third party, Turkey will be the first nation we will turn to," Ayalon continued.
The Deputy Foreign Minister also fielded questions on Iran and said that Turkey is important to send the correct messages to Tehran and hoped that if there are to be sanctions that Turkey will be on the right side.
The briefing was organized by Washington, DC and Jerusalem-based Project Interchange (an institute of the American Jewish Committee) and follows last month’s diplomatic visit to Turkey by Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, during which he and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc called for improved bilateral ties.