Home > Israel, Turkey, Uncategorized > Tensions in Israeli government coalition after Ben-Eliezer meeting with Turkish FM

Tensions in Israeli government coalition after Ben-Eliezer meeting with Turkish FM

(WJC)–Israel’s Trade and Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) has held secret talks this week in Europe with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, according to media reports in Israel and Turkey. Ben-Eliezer was apparently sent by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) in order to stop ties between Ankara and Istanbul from deteriorating further.

The surprise meeting caused frictions in Israel’s governing coalition. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beiteinu) was unaware of the meeting between the two sides and vented his anger about it. A statement by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Wednesday said: “The foreign minister views very gravely the fact that this was done without informing the Foreign Ministry. This harms both the norms of orderly government and the confidence between the foreign minister and the prime minister.” The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement of its own, saying that the failure to inform Lieberman of the meeting had been due to “technical” reasons. Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog blamed sources close to Lieberman for leaking details about the meeting.

According to Turkey’s NTV news channel, Ben-Eliezer met Davutoglu in Brussels, and both sides agreed to continue the talks at an undisclosed time and location. A similar report on Israel’s ‘Channel 2’ television did not specify the venue for the meeting, but said Ben-Eliezer’s mission had taken him through Zurich, Switzerland.

Asked about the ‘Channel 2’ report, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement: “Minister Ben-Eliezer informed the prime minister of an offer by a Turkish figure to hold an unofficial meeting. The prime minister saw nothing to prevent such a meeting, as in recent weeks there have been various initiatives for contacts with Turkey.”

Details of a meeting Wednesday in Zurich were published by Turkish newspaper ‘Hürriyet’ Thursday. According to the report, Davutoglu took a private jet to Zurich to keep his departure from Ankara and participation in a meeting with the Israeli minister low-profile. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since the 2008/09 Gaza war and in particular since the May 2010 raid by Israel’s Navy on a Turkish-owned ship trying to break the blockade on Gaza. Nine Turkish men were killed in the incident.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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