Report: Egypt asks Israel to prevent Turkish involvement in Gaza

Report: Egypt asks Israel to prevent Turkish involvement in Gaza

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyah

Egypt has expressed concern over potential Turkish involvement in the dispute over the blockade of the Gaza Strip amid recent efforts by Israel and Turkey to re-establish diplomatic relations and has asked Israel to keep Turkey away from Gaza, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Thursday.

Haaretz claimed that Egyptian officials are disturbed by media reports suggesting that Israel has “agreed to take significant steps in easing the maritime siege on Gaza.” Egypt approached Israel after the reports emerged and asked whether it “had committed to any easing of restrictions in the closure imposed on Gaza.” The report says Egypt conveyed its objection to any Israeli concessions to Turkey with regard to the Gaza Strip.

Egypt keeps the Rafah crossing — Gaza’s only gate to the outside world other than the closed border gates with Israel — closed to isolate Hamas. Cairo views Hamas as a Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was removed from power in Egypt in 2013 after a military coup led by Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current president.

Turkey and Israel have recently held talks to reconcile after relations between the two hit their lowest levels when Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla that sought to breach the Israeli blockade on Gaza in 2010.

The raid left nine Turks and a Turkish-American citizen dead. Efforts since then to bring about reconciliation have failed to yield a positive result despite an Israeli apology in March 2013, one of the conditions set by Ankara for restoring relations with Tel Aviv. Turkey also demands an end to the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Turkey has problematic relations with both countries. When President Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president in modern Egyptian history, was toppled by the military, Ankara did not recognize the military intervention, prompting Egypt to sever diplomatic ties with Ankara.

Cairo accused Ankara of meddling in its internal affairs and Turkey has not had an ambassador in Cairo since the military coup and refuses to recognize Sisi as the legitimate president of the country. However, there have been media reports suggesting that Turkish and Egyptian diplomats have made efforts behind closed doors to mend ties between Ankara and Cairo.

An Egyptian TV channel recently claimed that Sisi will attend an event in İstanbul in April where he is set to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Sada el-Balad presenter Ahmed Moussa said Saudi Arabia had exerted efforts to persuade Sisi to attend a ceremony in April in which Egypt will hand over the rotating presidency of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to Turkey.

Erdoğan, however, recently reiterated his refusal to recognize Sisi as the legitimate leader of Egypt.

(Source / 08.01.2016)

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