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Netanyahu stalls on reconciliation with Turkey

Israel's premier still does not trust Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to a question during a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta at the end of a bilateral meeting at Villa Madama in Rome December 2, 2013.  REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi  (ITALY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX1616K

For several long weeks, the draft of a reconciliation agreement with Turkey has been sitting on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s desk, waiting for his signature. The draft was agreed on by the Israeli and Turkish negotiating teams in the last round of talks that took place in Jerusalem in February 2014. Netanyahu had defined the rehabilitation of relations with Ankara as a top Israeli interest, and has instructed his team accordingly. The team had reached an agreement with the Turks after four years of negotiations. However, Netanyahu still has not signed it, finding it hard to overcome his distrust of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Before the local Turkish elections on March 30, Netanyahu clung to the appraisal by his Foreign Ministry that Erdogan would lose much of his popular support. It turned out that these assessments were only wishful thinking. Israel failed to correctly estimate Erdogan’s political clout when the prime minister was advised not to sign the agreement before the elections, so as not to be viewed as helping Erdogan flaunt the reconciliation as a personal victory in his campaign.

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