Turkish president Tayyip Recep Erdogan has raised another large obstacle on the road to Turkish-Israeli reconciliation and normal ties. Saudi King Salman, who is visiting Cairo, confided to his host Egyptian president Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi that Erdogan had made it clear that he would not finally repair Ankara’s ties with Israel until Sisi came forward to shake his hand, stopped being hostile and turned a new page in their relations.
This is revealed exclusively by DEBKAfile’s Middle East and Cairo sources.
The king sad that by burying the hatchet with Erdogan, Sisi would pave the way to an accord between Ankara and Jerusalem, on which progress has been made in bilateral negotiations. Members of the royal Saudi entourage in Cairo confirmed the threat from Ankara, that if the Egyptian president continues to disapprove of the Turkish ruler and give him a hard time, Ankara would retaliate by raising more impediments to a rapprochement with Israel.
In this regard, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Sunday cabinet meeting on April 10, “Peace with Egypt is stronger than ever before, standing firm against very tough challenges to both nations.” He went on to say, “The ties between Egypt and Israel provide an important buttress for the national security of both nations.”
Netanyahu did not itemize those “challenges,” but DEBKAfile’s sources were informed that he was beaming a message to the Saudi king and Turkish president, that Israel had every confidence in its strategic pact with President El-Sisi holding up against attempts by Erdogan to drive a wedge between Cairo and Jerusalem.
His comments were also meant to encourage the Egyptian leader to withstand undue pressure coming from King Salman and extortions by the Turkish president.
On one of the issues clouding relations between Cairo and Riyadh, the king denied wholehearted Saudi support for the El-Sisi’s archenemy, the Muslim Brotherhood, ousted from power three years ago in a military coup.
The Israeli question came up in relation to the Egyptian presidential decree ceding ownership to Saudi Arabia of the disputed Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir. These islands are of high strategic value because they control shipping traffic through the Gulf of Aqaba to and from the Israeli port of Eilat and the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
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