Turkey withdrew an invitation extended to Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz for Antalya Diplomacy Forum following recent Israeli violence on Palestinians in occupied lands, an Anadolu Agency (AA) report said Tuesday.
The withdrawal of the invitation was conveyed to the Israeli side through the Tel Aviv Embassy of Turkey. The reason was cited as Israel's increasing violations and attacks against Palestinians.
Antalya Diplomacy Forum is due held on June 18-20 and the invitation to the Israeli minister was seen as a new chance to improve relations.
On Tuesday, the death toll of Palestinian civilians killed in Israeli airstrikes on blockaded Gaza Strip rose to at least 28, including children amid an escalation sparked by violent unrest at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Ten children and one woman were among those killed in the blockaded Gaza that is controlled by Hamas and 152 people there were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last December that Turkey hopes for better relations with Israel.
He added that the “main problem right now is about individuals at the top” and that Israel’s “Palestine policy is our red line. It is impossible for us to accept Israel's Palestine policies. Their merciless acts there are unacceptable.”
Relations between Turkey and Israel drastically deteriorated in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid on a Turkish aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, en route to deliver humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. The raid killed 10 activists.
The event caused an unprecedented crisis in the decadeslong peaceful Turkish-Israeli relations. Both countries even recalled their diplomatic envoys following the massacre.
In 2013, thanks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's apology to Turkey and the payment of $20 million (about TL 38 million at the time) in compensation to the Mavi Marmara victims, Turkish-Israeli relations entered a period of normalization.
Turkish officials, however, continue to criticize Israel’s policies targeting Palestinians, including illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Known for its unbreakable solidarity with the Palestinians, Turkey has been voicing support for the Palestinian cause on the international stage for decades. Turkish authorities emphasize that the only way to achieve lasting peace and stability in the Middle East is through a fair and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue within the framework of international law and United Nations resolutions.
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