For the first time in five years, Turkey and Israel are talking officially again, with an official delegation from Turkey arriving today (Mon. Aug. 31) to discuss development in Jenin.
The Turkish delegation, led by Guven Sak, a co-director of the Turkish Manufacturers and Traders Association, are set to meet Monday in Israel with Israeli Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoub Karal
The Turkish business leaders are allegedly planning to discuss development of an industrial zone in the Jenin are, a project worth a Turkish investment of at least $100 million.
Monday’s visit is the first since the 2010 incident on the Mavi Marmara flotilla vessel that illegally attempted to breach Israel’s maritime security blockade of Gaza. The vessel, sponsored by a Turkish activist group, was filled with violent, armed activists who attacked Israeli commandos who boarded the vessel to redirect it to Ashdod port, after the captain refused to change course away from Gaza.
Although the group sponsoring the ship claimed it was filled with “humanitarian supplies”for Gaza residents, upon inspection in Ashdod it was discovered there were no supplies for Gazans. But during the clashes on board the vessel between the attacking activists on board, and the Israeli commandos who boarded to redirect the ship, nine Turkish attackers were killed. A number of Israelis were seriously wounded, including one critically, as well.
The incident sparked years of acrimonious rhetoric from then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now the country’s president, who expelled the Israeli ambassador and recalled his own from Tel Aviv. Erdogan is a strong supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, which gave birth to Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization. He was outraged when Israel has launched counter terror operations to silence the incessant rocket and mortar fire being aimed at its civilians in southern areas.
Nevertheless, over the past several years various figures behind the scenes have been working quietly to repair the damage to the relationship between the two former allies, which has continued to grow economically in commercial trade.
A number of religious leaders on both sides have also maintained ties and continued to meet for interfaith dialogue facilitated by Istanbul-based Islamic scholar Adnan Oktar.
The delegation is arriving one day after Turkey’s “ambassador to the Palestinian Authority,” Mustafa Sernich, traveled to Gaza, Al Resalah reported Sunday.
Semich was accompanied by a delegation of economists who paid their own way, and who are scheduled for meetings with heads of Gaza economic institutions.
The Turkish official was scheduled to meet with “deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.”
Until recently Haniyeh was recognized as the de facto prime minister of Gaza. The use of this new title by Palestinian Arab media suggests Haniyeh was demoted in a quiet internal political battle out of the public eye.
Hana Levi Julian