Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold met on Monday with his Turkish counterpart, Feridun Sinirlioglu, in Rome. The meeting was described as “secret” by multiple media sources.
The meeting is the first of its kind in recent months but Foreign Ministry sources told Kol Yisrael public radio that the meeting should not be seen as a breakthrough toward normalization between the two countries. They added that the previous Foreign Ministry Director General, Nisim Ben Sheetrit, also held similar meetings in the course of the last year.
Relations between Israel and Turkey, once cordial, have been rocky since the IDF's Cast Lead operation in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009. They were worsened when the Israeli naval raid on the Mavi Marmara, part of a provocative Turkish flotilla to Gaza in May 2010, resulted in the death of nine armed Islamists who violently attacked IDF soldiers. Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador in September of 2011.
In March 2013, when US President Barack Obama was visiting Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the phone for the raid.
In February 2014, a draft agreement for Israeli reparations to Turkey and reconciliation between the states was written. However, the agreement has never been signed, possibly because, despite US pressure, Netanyahu did not feel comfortable with paying millions in reparations to Turkey for an incident in which Turkey, and not Israel, was to blame.
The meeting in Rome took place weeks after the parliamentary elections in which Erdogan’s party failed to attain the majority it sought. There is speculation that Erdogan's chastened status may have made him less belligerent, as far as Israel is concerned.