In talks in London, Turkish and Israeli negotiating teams have achieved significant progress towards a reconciliation agreement between the two countries, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said. The announcement also stated that the agreement would be completed and signed in the upcoming meeting between the negotiating teams which would take place "very soon." Israel does not yet regard the agreement as a sure thing.
According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement, participants in the talks included Turkish Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Feridun Sinirlioglu; Prof. Joseph Ciechanover, a special envoy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and Israel National Security Council head Yaakov Nagel.
An Israeli source confirmed that Thursday's talks had continued for several hours, and that the parties had discussed all the issues on the agenda. The main obstacles to a reconciliation agreement remain the conditions in the Gaza Strip and the activity of Hamas on Turkish territory. Jerusalem is in no rush to announce when the parties will reach an agreement.
Following Thursday's talks, Israeli defense establishment sources asserted that the Turks were playing a double game with Israel. One source said, "The talks with Turkey are really going nowhere. At this stage, the Turks are using us as a means to exert pressure on the Russians." Among other things, the sources stated that the Turkish authorities had not yet closed the Hamas headquarters in the country, and were reportedly purchasing oil from the Islamic State, despite worldwide criticism. For these reasons, and because of the controversial statements about Israel and Turkey's strategic situation by senior Turkish officials, the sources predicted that the negotiations between the parties were destined to fail.
At the same time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented two weeks ago on the particulars of the emerging reconciliation with Turkey, saying, "There is good cooperation between the two countries." He added, "We have always wanted proper relations with Turkey. We were not the ones who changed the direction. If possible, we will normalize relations. There are contacts, they are taking place, and progress is being made. There will definitely be another meeting soon. I hope it will lead to a positive result - complete restoration of relations."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 10, 2016
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