Turkey is investigating claims made by a member of the PKK Kurdish armed separatist movement that a fellow PKK member involved in a deadly attack on Turkish soldiers, has close ties with Israel.
Baris Kizilcay, who was arrested by Turkish police last week, says that Kenan Yildizbakan was a frequent visitor to Israel, where he stayed in the house of his Israeli girlfriend. Yildizbakan is suspected of playing an important role in the attack in Iskenderun in May, 2010 in which seven Turkish policemen were killed. According to Kizilcay “I cannot say that the Iskenderun attack was the work of Israel but I can confirm that Yildizbakan spent a lot of time in Israel and in our conversations he was speaking very supportively of Israel.”
These allegations have sparked hot debate in Turkey about whether Israel is giving military support to the PKK.
euronews spoke to Alon Liel, who has more than 30 years of experience in the Israeli Foreign Ministry and who paid a rare visit by an Israeli official to Turkey. Liel admitted that there are some circles in Israel discussing the option of using the Kurdish card against Turkey.
He said: “The mood in Israel is so anti-Turkey, and so anti-Erdogan that you could read it as “let’s help the PKK”. But on a governmental level, I think it is completely crazy for the government of Israel to get involved in this. We have enough trouble with Hamas and Hezbollah; we don’t need to mix in Turkish troubles. I think it will be foolish if at a governmental level, or an intelligence level, they are considering working with the PKK against Turkey.”
Liel emphasized that Israel’s relations with the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq is developing fast. “I will not be surprised that Israelis are visiting northern Iraq, because we have many Jews from the Kurdish part of Iraq. They are visiting the graves of their parents. There is some movement of tourists and of business people to Irbil and to Suleimania. But I think what should worry Turkey, is if the Israeli government is involved in any kind of military or intelligence issues. But I think this would be considered suicidal.”
Ambassador Ozden Sanberk, who was the Turkish member of the Palmer Commission that investigated the Mavi Marmara incident (in which Israeli commandos killed Turkish activists bound for Gaza), said he does not believe that Israel is supporting the PKK against Turkey. “To say that Israel is involved in attacks in Turkey sounds to me like a conspiracy theory. To believe this we need concrete proof. Of course the movement of this terrorist (he says, referring to Yildizbakan) is on the record. These allegations are not helping the relations of the two countries.”
Turkish police are carrying out investigations into Yildizbakan’s contacts in Israel.