Rep. Israel: Time to reassess relationship with Turkey


Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y) says he wants the United States to reassess its relationship with Turkey, in the wake of that country’s recent harsh criticism of Israel over the Gaza war and other matters and its exclusion of Israel from a NATO military exercise.

"Turkey really worries me," said Israel in an interview with JTA Tuesday after returning from a three-day trip to the Jewish state last week. "They’ve shown thoroughly irresponsible behavior."

Israel said he would be sending a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding a reassessment of the relationship in light of Turkey’s recent actions.

Israel traveled with two former colleagues from the House Armed Services Committee, Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.). They met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top leaders and Israel said he believes that "peace talks remain out of reach" at the present time.

"It seems to me Israel continues to offer ideas and show restraint and their reward is a Palestinian Authority that continues to miss opportunities," he said, adding that he believes it is unfair for Palestinians to insist that Israel freeze all settlement growth before coming to the table.

Rep. Israel also said that Netanyahu told him last week’s meeting between him and Presidnet Obama was "very important" and that relations with the president are "much, much better."

"They just needed time one-on-one to get a better feel for each other," he said.

And he said there while there may have been a lot of chatter in recent months about tensions in the U.S-Israel relationship, one needs to also focus on important things like the joint military exercise that the two countries just completed this week.

"You can’t ignore the fundamentals on military cooperation," Israel said.

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