Turkey and Israel not in contradiction on Syria, says Tel Aviv

Emmanuel Nahshon, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson

Turkey and Israel are not in contradiction with each other on the issue of Syria, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said yesterday, while acknowledging that the two sides still do not have the same perspective.

“Israel and Turkey are not in contradiction [on Syria]. The way you look at Syria and the way we look at Syria do not contradict each other,” Nahshon told a small group of Turkish journalists who were the first to visit Israel after Turkish-Israeli rapprochement, according to Turkey’s Dogan News Agency.

“We don’t look at things in the same way but there is no potential for friction or fundamental disagreement,” he added.

Turkey has long supported Syrian opposition groups against the country’s President Bashar al-Assad, while Israel has repeatedly stressed that it wants to stay out of a civil war in its neighbour.

After a six-year-long friction in relations due to an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed 10 Turkish citizens in 2010, Turkey and Israel reached a deal to re-establish ties in mid-2016.

Meanwhile, sources in Jerusalem said a diplomatic delegation from Israel will visit Turkey in March as part of talks for rapprochement.

After that visit, Israeli Economy Minister Yuval Steinitz will pay a visit to Turkey in April to attend the Atlantic Council meeting, while Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi is expected to visit Israel in May. A group of businessmen are also expected to accompany Zeybekçi to Israel, sources said.

Nahshon also commented on Turkey’s April 16 referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system.

“The referendum is important because the Turkish president is a very important regional actor. His political future and the instruments he will hold in his hands are also an important factor in the way this region will look in the future,” he said.