Diplomacy - 18:11, 29 March 2011 Tuesday
Turkey: Deal between Hamas, Israel ‘far-fetched'

Turkish officials firmly ruled out on Tuesday continuing reports suggesting that Turkey has been brokering a limited truce between Hamas and Israel, calling such a deal “far-fetched.”

Turkey Deal between Hamas Israel far-fetched '

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkish officials firmly ruled out on Tuesday continuing reports suggesting that Turkey has been brokering a limited truce between Hamas and Israel, calling such a deal "far-fetched."

Turkey has contributed to preventing heightened tension in the Gaza Strip from developing into an all-out military confrontation, a Hamas official was cited as saying by the Xinhua news agency on Monday. Contacts between Turkey and the two sides, Hamas and Israel, helped to bring Gaza factions and Israel back to a kind of cease-fire that has lasted two years, the Hamas official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity, a report by the Yemeni news agency Saba said.

"There is no such possibility; those reports are extremely far-fletched," a senior Turkish diplomat, however, told Cihan news agency on Tuesday. "We don't have such any information regarding brokering a truce between Hamas and Israel," the diplomat added.

Over the weekend, the Palestine-based Ma'an News Agency (MNA) reported late on Sunday, citing a report by the Israeli website Inyan Merkazi, that Turkey has been brokering a limited truce between Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel in a bid to bring an end to recent border escalations. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan "himself is heading the negotiations," and he held a meeting with "Gaza resistance leaders and Israeli officials" on Saturday, the report said.

"It would not be natural when you consider the state of affairs regarding bilateral relations between Turkey and Israel," another Turkish diplomat had told Cihan news agency on Monday, in response to a question about the Israeli news site's report. However, they also noted that Turkey has been constantly encouraging the Palestinian factions to reach a compromise among each other for "the sake of the future of the Palestinian cause."

Meanwhile, Palestinian Ambassador Nabil Maarouf also ruled out the reports, noting that he had no such information about Turkey's alleged involvement. "Hamas might have requested Turkey play such a role. However, I think that Turkey doesn't favorably consider playing such a role," Maarouf told cihan news agency on Tuesday.

Relations between Turkey and Israel began to deteriorate after Israeli forces killed about 1,400 Palestinians in a three-week offensive in Gaza in the winter of 2009-2010. Tension reached a peak when Israeli commandos killed nine activists -- eight Turks and one Turkish-American -- during a raid on an aid flotilla trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Turkey has demanded an apology for the attack, while Israel refuses, saying its commandos acted in self-defense.