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Turkey holds secret meetings with Israel officials

Head of the Turkish Intelligence Organisation Hakan Fidan is seen in Ankara, Turkey [Ahmet Sel/Anadolu Agency]
Head of the Turkish Intelligence Organisation Hakan Fidan is seen in Ankara, Turkey [Ahmet Sel/Anadolu Agency]

The Head of Turkish Intelligence Services Hakan Fidan has been involved in discussions with Israel in an effort to improve ties, Al-Monitor reports.

Three sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that secret meetings had taken place in recent weeks with Fidan representing Turkey in at least one of them. No details were given as to where the talks were held.

One of the sources commented, "The traffic between Turkey and Israel is continuing."

This comes despite Turkey strongly condemning agreements to establish diplomatic relations between Gulf States and Israel, saying the deal contradicts the commitments made under the Arab Peace Initiative and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan were the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

The Palestinian leadership condemned the establishment of ties with the occupation as a "treacherous stab to the Palestinian cause".

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One of the sources noted that Turkey's efforts to improve ties with the occupation state are fueled by fear that US President-elect Joe Biden will treat Ankara harshly when it enters into office as a result of Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence systems and the US preventing the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

"The calculation is that making nice with Israel will win them favor with the Biden team," said a Western official, adding: "It works each time."

Last week, Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin explained that the first issue related to the US is its support for the Kurdish protection militias, also known as the People's Protection Units, which it says are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the US, EU and Turkey have designated as a "terrorist organisation".

Kalin said US support for the Kurdish militias was "wrong" and must "definitely change".

Turkey has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years since Israeli commandos assaulted the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara in international waters in May 2010; nine Turkish citizens on board were killed and another died of his wounds later. The ship was sailing towards the Gaza Strip as part of the Freedom Flotilla to break the Israeli-led siege of the Palestinian enclave. At the time, Ankara recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

READ: Peace will come through decolonisation, not rhetoric on annual Palestine Solidarity Day

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