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Report: Turkey, Israel meet secretly

July 1, 2010 at 9:51 AM   |   Comments

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ANKARA, Turkey, July 1 (UPI) -- Members of the Turkish and Israeli cabinets met earlier this week in Europe to discuss how to mend strained relations between the two countries, diplomats said.

The once-strong alliance between Turkey and Israel disintegrated last month after Israeli military personnel boarded an aid flotilla bound for Gaza. Nine passengers aboard the Turkish-flagged lead ship were killed in a confrontation with Israeli commandos.

Turkish and Israeli sources confirmed for Today's Zaman that a meeting occurred between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. Israeli sources said the meeting was in Zurich but Turkish sources said it was arranged in Brussels where the Turkish foreign minister was heading a delegation at an intergovernmental conference with the European Union.

Today's Zaman reported Thursday Davutoglu pressed Turkey's demands for an official apology and compensation for the victims of the attack and later ripped Israel during a briefing at the European Union facilities in Brussels, saying the incident was not just between Turkey and Israel, but between Israel and the international community

"Citizens from 32 countries joined in this flotilla and Israel killed nine of them," Davutoglu said as he repeated his call for an international inquiry. Israel is conducting its own inquiry with two international observers.

The meeting reportedly created a rift in the Israeli government. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the meeting was arranged without his knowledge, damaging his relationship with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and undermined his authority.

"The foreign minister takes a very serious view of the fact view that this occurred without informing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Lieberman said in a statement. "This is an insult to the norms of accepted behavior and a heavy blow to the confidence between the foreign minister and the prime minister."

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