Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused Turkey’s request to lift the siege on Gaza, saying to do so would be “impossible” and that the security of Israel is the primary issue for him. Netanyahu also claimed that Israel is the only country that currently sends supplies to the coastal enclave, Today’s Opinion reported yesterday.
During a meeting with his Likud bloc in the Knesset, Netanyahu was reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as saying that Israel would allow entry of the equipment needed to rebuild Gaza to the Strip, but will not accept any bargaining for Israel’s security.
Netanyahu also said that Ankara’s decision to expel Hamas official Saleh Al-Arouri, who spent close to two decades in Israeli prisons, is not enough to reach reconciliation between the two nations. He demanded that Turkey guarantee that no anti-Israeli activities operate on its soil.
However, Israeli sources said that Turkey would not agree to such conditions and would not close Hamas offices in Ankara, Haaretz reported. The sources added that expelling Al-Arouri is also an American demand.
Netanyahu reiterated that contrary to Turkish demands, he would not lift the siege on Gaza or change the policy of sea closure of the Strip.
Regarding Israeli compensation to the Turks killed by Israeli commandoes on board of the Mavi Marmara flotilla, Netanyahu noted that Israel had agreed to pay $20m for a humanitarian fund in order to compensate the families of the victims.
However, he reiterated that no agreement had been reached with Turkey regarding the potential thawing of diplomatic relations.
“There is contacts with Turkey, but there is not reconciliation yet,” Haaretz reported Netanyahu saying to Likud members at the meeting. “There are differences regarding Hamas’s future activities in Turkey and the policy of blockade on Gaza.”
Senior Israeli officials said that this agreement is “less than half ready”.
The Israeli newspaper reported the Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu as saying that Ankara is still sticking to its conditions for any potential reconciliation with Israel, which include compensation for the flotilla and a lifting of the siege on Gaza.
Davutoglu told Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal that Turkey would never forget Gaza and that those who say that Turkey is getting closer to Israel and ignoring Palestine are mistaken.
“We do not forget Gaza, Palestine, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Davutoglu said, “they are in our dreams – so how can we forget them in our talks?”