Informal Talks Between the Turks and Israelis (and Some Cabinet Trouble in Israel?)

Israel and Turkey held secret, informal talks recently. This is interesting, given the recent flotilla incident. What is more interesting is that the Israeli Foreign Minister learned of the event via the press.

Via the BBC:  Turkey and Israeli hold first talks since flotilla raid.

Israeli Trade Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer held secret talks with Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, reportedly in Brussels on Wednesday.

Turkish officials have said nothing substantial was agreed at the meeting.

The talks, according to the piece, were at the request of the Turks and were perhaps a first step in smoothing relations between the two countries after the incident with the flotilla that was blocked by the Israeli navy from bringing supplies to Palestinians in the Gaza strip.  Eight Turkish nationals were killed in the raid on one of the ships in the flotilla.

The truly interesting part about the meeting is that not only did it not involve Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, but he only learned of it from the press.

Lieberman is from the Yisrael Beiteinu party (“Israel is Our Home”) and is a hardcore nationalist and, as the story notes, his “hardline approach to Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs has made him unpopular abroad.”  In fact, “In the past, other ministers have been sent in his place to diplomatic meetings.”

Netanyahu entered into a tricky coalition with Yisrael Beiteinu and several other parties early last year (see here, here and here).  While, as noted, Lieberman has always been a problematic coalition partner (and not just abroad—his brand of nationalism is not popular with all Israelis, either), but he was a necessary partner in forming the government.  However, one wonders how this type of internal conflict (which the PM’s office blames, according to the BBC, on “technical reasons”) coupled with the public embarrassment of the situation might not put a serious strain on Netanyahu’s cabinet and the cohesion of his governing coalition.

Note:  correction to the number of Turks killed has been made–thanks to a commenter for noting the error.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Middle East, World Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Mithras says:

    A Turkish national was killed in the raid on one of the ships in the flotilla.

    Eight Turkish nationals were killed. One American was killed.

  2. sam says:

    Lieberman is from the Yisrael Beiteinu party (“Israel is Our Home”) and is a hardcore nationalist and, as the story notes, his “hardline approach to Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs has made him unpopular abroad.”

    I think he’s about the indicted for corruption. I wonder what the Hebrew is for “loose cannon”?

  3. steve says:

    Sounds odd. What would Turkey want from Israel other than weapons? Specifically, what that it could not get elsewhere? It is already heavily exporting to Europe. Iraq and Iran are, potentially larger markets I would think.

    Steve

  4. matt says:

    Turkey already has weapons on par with Israel so I’m curious as to what system you believe the Turks would be interested in.