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      Israeli in Turkey to Ease Strains

Israeli in Turkey to Ease Strains   15/07/2004

Israeli in Turkey to Ease Strains             


            Published: July 15, 2004 New York Times

            ANKARA, Turkey, July 14 - Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel began talks here on Wednesday to smooth over differences in an alliance so close that Israeli fighter pilots hone their combat skills over central Turkey.

            But recent accusations by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Israel's actions toward the Palestinians constitute state terrorism and have spurred anti-Semitism have led to suggestions that Turkey's government may be trying to distance itself from Israel - possibly to enhance relations with its Arab neighbors and a European Union that is also critical of Israel. 

            The government could also be looking to please Turkish voters who are increasingly alienated by Israel's harsh tactics against fellow Muslims.

            "The groundwork of the Turkish-Israeli relationship as it stands in Turkey is eroding," said Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 

            Turkey is caught in a quandary. On the one hand, Washington has promoted ties between Israel and NATO's only Muslim member. .

            But Turkey is pressing for closer ties with Arab countries. The government is also faced with strong support for the Palestinians among the broad Turkish population.


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