Istanbul: Top diplomats piled pressure on
Turkey and Israel to make up on Saturday after Ankara`s decision to expel the Jewish state`s ambassador in retaliation for last
year`s deadly Gaza flotilla raid.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, senior European foreign ministers
and officials in Washington all urged the one-time allies to
end their increasingly poisonous dispute that they worried
could impact on the wider Middle East.
But there seemed little prospect of an immediate end to
their dispute as Turkey`s Foreign Minister indicated that a
legal challenge to Israel`s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip
would be launched in a matter of days.
"I sincerely hope that Israel and Turkey will improve
their relationship," Ban told reporters in the Australian
"Both countries are very important countries in the
region and their improving relationship, normal relationship,
will be very important in addressing all the situations in the
Middle East, including the Middle East peace process."
The UN leader said he had been trying to help the
countries improve their relationship since May 31, 2010 when
Israeli troops boarded a Gaza aid flotilla, leading to the
deaths of nine people including eight Turks.
Turkey pulled its ambassador out of Tel Aviv in the
immediate aftermath of the raid but on Friday Foreign Minister
Ahmet Davutoglu said ties would be further downgraded after a
UN probe slammed the "excessive" force used in the raid, for
which Israel has failed to apologise.
As well as announcing the Israeli ambassador Gaby Levy
was being expelled, Davutoglu also said all bilateral military
agreements were suspended.
Davutoglu spent today with European Union counterparts
who sent a clear message they wanted an end to the spat.
"Our wishes are like those of the UN secretary general
who said that this dispute between Israel and Turkey must be
resolved through dialogue and mutual understanding, not via
other means," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told
reporters at a meeting in Sopot, Poland.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle meanwhile said
Berlin was "very worried by the recent dispute", urging
immediate dialogue by "all parties".
There were also similar calls to mend fences from
The United States "has longstanding friendships with both
Israel and Turkey", said State Department spokeswoman Victoria
Nuland, urging the two sides "to look for opportunities to
improve their longstanding relationship".