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Secret Turkey talks anger Israeli foreign minister

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Secret meeting in Middle East
  • Israel foreign minister reacts angrily after secret meeting of Israeli and Turkish officials
  • First ministerial meeting since fallout from Gaza flotilla raid
  • Each side says meeting was the other's idea
  • Turkey says they discussed current and future relations
  • Israel
  • Turkey
  • Gaza

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israel's foreign minister has lashed out at the country's prime minister for failing to inform him of the first ministerial talks between Israel and Turkey since the Gaza flotilla incident in May.

Avigdor Lieberman accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of delivering a "hard blow" to the trust between the two offices by not telling him the meeting was due to take place.

In a statement released Wednesday night, Lieberman said: "This is an insult to the norms of accepted behavior and a hard blow to the trust between the foreign minister and the prime minister."

Netanyahu's office said Lieberman had not been informed for technical reasons.

In a live phone interview on Israel radio Thursday, Lieberman said he would not leave the coalition even though he was upset with the prime minister's political norms.

Israeli Industry and Trade Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu met Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium, according to officials in Turkey.

Each country said the meeting happened on the other's initiative.

A senior Turkish official approached Ben-Eliezer about a possible meeting, the Israelis said late Wednesday. Ben Eliezer reported it to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who saw no reason why the meeting should not take place, Netanyahu's office said.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told CNN, "The meeting took place upon Israel's demand."

Israel and Turkey have had a troubled relationship ever since the Israeli offensive on Gaza that began at the end of 2008. Relations deteriorated further after the incident May 31 in which Israeli naval commandos raided a Turkish vessel that was part of a six-boat flotilla carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza. The flotilla was attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Nine Turkish activists were killed and dozens wounded. A number of Israeli soldiers were injured as well.

Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel after the incident and denied Israeli military planes access to its airspace.

Ben-Eliezer and Davutoglu discussed the latest stage in their countries' bilateral relations following the flotilla raid and the course those relations will take, Ozugergin said.

"Within this framework, Foreign Minister Davutoglu stressed to his counterpart the steps we are expecting Israel to take for the relations to improve," Ozugergin said. "As you know, a note listing our demands and some other issues was given to the Israeli government a while ago."

Turkey has repeatedly demanded an apology from Israel, compensation to the families of the flotilla victims, an investigation of the incident by an international commission, and the lifting of the Israeli blockade around Gaza.

CNN's Michal Zippori in Jerusalem and Yesim Comert in Istanbul, Turkey, contributed to this report.