Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Rejeb Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement, in an apparent bid to repair relations between the two U.S. allies.
“The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security,” Obama said in the statement released by the White House just before he ended a visit to Israel.
“I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities,” the president said.
Last year, Erdogan accused Israel's leaders of trying to eliminate the Palestinian population in Gaza. And the Turkish leader recently compared Zionism to Fascism at a U.N. meeting, prompting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to object and say the remark complicated Mideast peace efforts.
Relations between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated since a United Nations report was made public in 2011 on the storming of a Turkish aid flotilla. Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and froze military cooperation after the report failed to prompt an apology from Israel.
The report found Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip legal, but that Israel used unreasonable force when its commandos raided the ship, the Mavi Marmara, despite meeting strong resistance from those on board.
Obama says it's important the two nations restore good relations so they can cooperate on regional security. The call comes on the final day of Obama's trip to Israel.
The rift between Turkey and Israel continued for two years despite U.S. efforts to encourage a rapprochement between two regional powers, whose cooperation it needs to address changes sweeping the Middle East.
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