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Its Too Early For Negotiations — Israeli Envoy

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Israel’s Ambassador to Turkey, Irit Lillian, said on Sunday it was too early to talk about mediation offers between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, adding the attacks showed that Hamas should not have any presence in Turkey or elsewhere.

On Saturday, Hamas launched an attack against Israel, for which Israel vowed “mighty vengeance” in response. Hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis have been killed, in what Israel has said is a war.

In an online briefing with journalists after Turkey said it was in contact with all parties and stood ready to de-escalate, Lillian said Israel’s priority was its response to the attack.

“Mediation comes at a different point of time. Right now, we are unfortunately counting the dead, we are trying to heal the wounded, we don’t even know what is the number of the citizens abducted,” she said.

“We want to see all the abducted people coming home and we want quiet and calmness coming back to Israel and the region,” she added. “After that, we can talk about mediation and who are going to be the players in this mediation.”

The conflict comes as Turkey, which has backed Palestinians in the past, hosted members of Hamas, and supported a two-state solution to the conflict, works to repair ties with Israel after years of animosity.

Ankara does not consider Hamas a terrorist organisation.

Asked about the presence of Hamas members in Turkey, Lillian said a senior member of the Islamist group, Saleh al-Arouri, was sometimes seen at events in Turkey, and added he should be tried for crimes against humanity.

“I think it just strengthens our point that Hamas should not have an office or any kind of activity, neither in Turkey nor anywhere else in the world,” she said. “There is no place for terrorists to direct or command acts from any country in the world.”

The Turkish foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the presence of Hamas officials in Turkey.

On Sunday, Turkish Parliament Speaker Numan Kurtulmus, while repeating Ankara’s earlier call for restraint, said Palestinians had long suffered from injustices, namely on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque which he labelled a “red line”.

Lillian said Israel had expected more empathy from Turkey, a country that has suffered from militant attacks for decades, but added “good constructive” dialogue between the countries in “the day after” would shed light on the fate of the rapprochement.

“I think it’s a little bit hard to say,” Lillian said, when asked if ties would be affected, adding that some comments from Ankara were “surprising”.

“I think the relations of Israel and Turkey which started a process of warm-up should not be affected by yesterday’s attack and by the ongoing war against terrorism,” she added.

She also said the Israeli embassy was in touch with Turkish authorities regarding threats, and calls for demonstrations and violence.


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