Egypt Asks Israel to Keep Turkey Out of Gaza Strip

Netanyahu is worried that his reconciliation with Erdogan could harm Israel's relations with Egypt. (Reuters)
Netanyahu is worried that his reconciliation with Erdogan could harm Israel’s relations with Egypt. (Reuters)

Egypt has approached Israel asking for clarifications regarding recent progress in its reconciliatory talks with Turkey. 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.

The senior officials noted that over the last two years there has been a serious rift in relations between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The background for this crisis is the support expressed by Turkey’s government and ruling AKP party for Egypt’s deposed president Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt.

After Morsi was ousted in a military coup d’etat, Erdogan expressed sharp criticism and to this day does not recognize al-Sissi as the legitimate president of Egypt. Following Erdogan’s statements, Turkey’s ambassador to Egypt was expelled in November 2013, with relations since then conducted only at a lower level.

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SOURCE: Barak Ravid