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Turkey: ‘We want better ties with Israel’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday his country is looking to improve its relationship with Israel, despite his continued opposition to Israel’s policies vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority.

Speaking with reporters in Istanbul after Friday prayers, Erdoğan said that talks between Israel and Turkey are continuing, adding that he hopes his country will be able to strengthen its ties with the Jewish state – a major shift in rhetoric from the hardline leader.

But Erdoğan added that Turkey views Israel’s policies in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip as being “unacceptable”.

“We are having issues with people at the top level,” he said.

“If there were no issues at the top level, our ties could have been very different,” Erdoğan continued

“The Palestine policy is our red line. It is impossible for us to accept Israel’s Palestine policies. Their merciless acts there are unacceptable.”

Erdoğan’s terms as president, from 2014 on, and as prime minister, from 2003 to 2014, have seen Turkey’s relationship with Israel deteriorate dramatically, reaching a nadir in 2010, when Turkish Islamist radicals on MV Mavi Marmara attempted to force their way through Israel’s security blockade around the Gaza Strip.

When Israeli forces boarded the vessel, the Turkish Islamists attacked the Israeli soldiers, prompting the troops to open fire, killing 10.

This week, however, it was reported that Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority country east of Turkey with ties to Israel, is working to mend relations between Turkey and the Jewish state.

According to senior Israeli officials, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev raised the Israel-Turkey tensions in a recent call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Source: Arutz Sheva