Turkey urged to normalize ties with Israel before Armenian Genocide centennial in 2015

Ankara should accelerate its efforts to normalize ties with Israel before 2015, the centennial of the Armenian genocide in 1915, as the global Israeli lobby has significantly toned down its previously staunch support of Turkey in blocking the recognition of genocide, said Zali De Toledo, head of the Association of Turkish Jews in Israel.

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, Zali De Toledo said : “As 2015 is approaching, Turkey should take into account its interests and should normalize relations with Israel by appointing an ambassador to Israel as soon as possible. If both countries miss the opportunity to mend the ties, the Israeli lobby will likely stay neutral when 2015 comes.”

De Toledo told Today’s Zaman that she had done her utmost to pressure the Israeli lobby in the US to refrain from labeling mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans in 1915 as genocide, adding: “I was the strongest supporter of the Turkish position. And now I am really disappointed to see Turkish-Israeli relations at this point.”

De Toledo was speaking of strains in Israel-Turkey relations after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010. In late March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered an apology to Turkey, but that has not translated into immediate thaw in relations.

De Toledo served as Israeli cultural attaché to Turkey for 10 years, from 1993 to 2003. Israeli President Shimon Peres offered her the position in a bid to improve relations between the two countries.

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