Israeli and Turkish officials have been holding secret direct talks to try to solve the diplomatic crisis between the two countries, a senior official in Jerusalem said. The negotiations are receiving the Americans’ support.
A source in the Turkish Foreign Ministry and a U.S. official confirmed that talks are being held, though in Israel the prime minister and foreign minister’s aides declined to comment.
The talks are being held between an Israeli official on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, a firm supporter of rehabilitating ties with Israel.
Talks are also being held between the Israeli representative on the UN inquiry committee on last year’s Gaza flotilla, Yosef Ciechanover, and Turkey’s representative on the committee, Ozdem Sanberk. The two, who have been working together for several months on the UN committee, pass on messages between Israel and Turkey and have taken pains to draft understandings to end the crisis.
In addition, the U.S. administration has held talks with senior Turkish officials, mainly to foil the flotilla to Gaza due later this month, but also in a bid to improve relations with Israel.
On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu and expressed satisfaction with the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation’s announcement that the ship the Mavi Marmara would not take part in the flotilla this time around, officials said.