Wednesday, 30 June 2010

'Ben-Eliezer secretly met Turkish FM'

A secret meeting between Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to try and repair Israeli-Turkish ties could very well end up harming relations between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

Lieberman issued a harsh response on Wednesday night to a Channel 2 report that Netanyahu had dispatched Ben-Eliezer, known for his good ties with the Turks, to a meeting with Davutoglu that took place in Zurich without informing Lieberman. Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly also knew about the meeting.

The meeting was aimed at improving relations that have deteriorated since the May 31 IDF raid on a Turkish-owned ship trying to block the blockade on Gaza, in which nine Turkish men were killed.

“The foreign minister views very gravely the fact that this was done without informing the Foreign Ministry,” said a statement put out by Lieberman’s office. “This harms both the norms of orderly government and the confidence between the foreign minister and the prime minister.”

The statement said that Lieberman planned to clarify the matter “to the fullest.”

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement of its own, saying that the failure to inform Lieberman of the meeting was due to “technical” reasons.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Ben-Eliezer informed Netanyahu about overtures being made to him by a Turkish official regarding an informal meeting.

“The prime minister saw no reason why the meeting should not be held, since over the last few weeks there were a number of initiatives for contacts with the Turks which the Foreign Ministry knew about,” the statement read.

The failure to update the ministry about this particular meeting was due “only to a technical reason,” it added.

According to the statement, the prime minister “cooperates fully” with Lieberman and will “clarify with him the details of this incident.”

No information on the content of the meeting between Ben-Eliezer and Davutoglu was released.

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