Israeli PM sends envoy representative to Turkey

by Peter Lyukimson, Israel. Exclusively for VK

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described the efforts Israel is making to improve relations with Ankara. Israeli sources contributed to his story with more details and called the Turkish leader’s story slightly exaggerated.

During a visit to Sarajevo, dedicated to the 550th anniversary of the city, Erdogan said that said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent “the world’s richest Jew” as a mediator. The mediator was to change the attitude of Erdogan towards the Mavi Marmara incident (Israel insists that the ship carried IHH terrorists who used force against Israeli military and tried to kill them) and reach compromise to normalize bilateral interstate relations. Erdogan said that his vision of the incident of mid-2010 did not change and Turkish demands to Israel were unaltered: apologies, compensations to families of the seven crew members of Mavi Marmara killed and lift of the Gaza blockade. The Turkish PM recommended Israel to be quick with normalization of relations, because Israel, as he said, “was more interested in it than Turkey, the only Muslim state in the world to have normal relations with the Jewish state”.

Israel admits that Netanyahu did send his personal representative and gave the man’s name. It was Ronald Lauder, Chairman of the World Jewish Congress. Owner of the Estee Lauder cosmetic company is a billionaire indeed, but he is not “the richest Jew in the world”. The choice of Ronald Lauder is clear, he is one of the closest people of Netanyahu. Lauder was sent as a mediator for secret negotiations with Syria in 1998 and he admitted to Netanyahu that “Israel was very close to signing a peace treaty with Damascus back then”. It seems that the agreement was planned to be based on formal return of the Golan Heights to Syria, but taken under long-term lease by Israel.

A high-ranking Israeli diplomat told VK that Erdogan “was usually shuffling facts”, because Turkey has not been the only Muslim state Israel has diplomatic relations with for a long time. “The fact that Erdogan neglects such big friends of Israel as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan gives a feeling, in my opinion, of the ever-lasting paternal approach of Turkey towards other Turkic states. Moreover, the role of the said states in the international arena gets bigger, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are becoming the key players of their regions. Besides, Israel has been improving relations with a set of Islamic, mainly Arabic, countries. You can recall the return of Jordan’s ambassador to Israel after his withdrawal two years ago. Egypt has sent a new ambassador to Tel Aviv as well. There is a set of desperate contracts with Arab states I have no right to mention. So, although we do need to improve ties with Turkey, it is not as decisive an issue for Israel as Erdogan is trying to put it. And we will not start improving relations with Ankara at any cost!”, the Israeli diplomat told VK.

Kazakhstan held a meeting of foreign ministers of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) at the Kazakh capital on September 12. Turkey became the chairman of the organization in 2010. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman skipped the meeting and sent Director General of the Israeli Foreign Minister Pinhas Avivi instead.

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