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Thursday, January 07, 2016

It's come to this: Egypt asks Israel to keep Turkey away from Gaza

Egypt is worried - really worried - about the prospect that Turkey will have a role to play in Gaza, and with 'reconciliation talks' between Israel and Turkey ostensibly taking place, the Egyptians have asked Israel to ensure that Turkey will stay away.
Senior officials in Jerusalem told Haaretz that Egypt expressed its reservations regarding granting Turkey a role in the Gaza Strip, and asked whether Israel had committed to any easing of restrictions in the closure imposed on Gaza.

These officials, who asked to remain anonymous due to the delicate diplomatic nature of the issue, stated that what caused the Egyptian government’s displeasure was Israeli media reports from a few weeks ago, according to which a breakthrough had been reached in reconciliation talks with Turkey, as well as reports in the Turkish media that Israel had agreed to take significant steps in easing the maritime siege on Gaza.
Senior Egyptian Foreign Ministry officials met with Israel’s ambassador Haim Koren and asked if these reports were correct and whether Israel and Turkey are indeed close to reconciling. The temporary chargé d’affaires at the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv delivered similar messages in a recent meeting with senior Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem. Egypt expressed its opposition to any Israeli concessions to Turkey with regard to the Gaza Strip.
Egypt has two concerns: Turkey's support for Mohammed Morsy's Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, and Turkey's close relations with Hamas.
Last week, Erdogan said that as part of the negotiations with Israel over the agreement, Turkey is interested in sending a ship that would arrive directly in Gaza, providing electricity and delivering construction materials. He noted that Israel has told Turkey that it would lift the siege if aid to Gaza goes through Turkey.

Last week, the Turkish Hürriyet Daily News reported that Turkey demanded that Israel grants it “unlimited access” in providing aid to the Gaza Strip. The report noted that senior Turkish officials said that if Israel allows this, Turkey will consider it a fulfillment of its condition that Israel lifts its siege.
Haaretz's Barak Ravid reports that the tensions between Egypt and Turkey are holding up any Israeli reconciliation with Turkey. Well, good.

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