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.