Israel Denies Agreement Finalized With Turkey

YERUSHALAYIM -

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied on Thursday Turkish media reports of imminent normalization of relations between the two countries, The Jerusalem Post reported.

However, Israel did announce that it will allow into the Gaza Strip construction materials and electric equipment to help build a Turkish-sponsored hospital, a possible sign of improving ties with Ankara, Reuters said.

Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman said that the Israeli and Turkish embassies in both nations would reopen, and that a possible visit by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Israel was also under discussion.

The report followed a meeting between Netanyahu’s personal representative on energy and security issues, David Meidan, and Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MÝT) chief, Hakan Fidan, in Ankara earlier this week. There was a report earlier in the week that a reconciliation was only a few days away, likely to come after the Turkish elections on Sunday.

Turkey began constructing the hospital in Gaza in 2011 using materials smuggled into the territory through tunnels, and this is first time Israel has agreed to let any in for the project.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon approved the request from Turkey, his ministry said in a statement, and an Israeli official, who asked not to be named, confirmed that the reconciliation efforts played a part in his decision.

Once completed, the hospital will be jointly run by Palestinian and Turkish doctors.