* Washington Post says Turkey blew spy network in 2012
* Turkey, Israel decline to comment
* Ties between former friends fraught since 2010
JERUSALEM, Oct 17 Turkey deliberately blew the
cover of an Israeli spy ring working inside Iran in early 2012
and dealt a significant blow to Israeli intelligence gathering,
according to a report in the Washington Post on Thursday.
There was no immediate comment from Israel or Turkey, but
Israeli ministers have accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan of adopting an anti-Israeli stance in recent
years to bolster his country's standing in the Muslim world.
Once-strong relations between Turkey and Israel hit the
rocks in 2010 after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish
activists who were seeking to break Israel's long-standing naval
blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said Israel
apparently used to run part of its Iranian spy network out of
Turkey, giving Turkish secret services the opportunity to
monitor their movements. The paper quoted U.S. officials as
saying Israel believed that the Turks would never turn on the
Jewish state after years of cooperation.
However, it said that in early 2012 Erdogan disclosed to
Tehran the identities of 10 Iranians who had travelled to Turkey
to meet Israeli spies.
In April 2012, Iran announced that it had broken up a large
Israeli spy network and arrested 15 suspects. It was not clear
if this was connected to the alleged Turkish leak.
Iran has long accused Israel of spying inside the Islamic
Republic and of killing a string of Iranian nuclear scientists -
the last in January 2012. Israel and the West accuse Iran of
looking to build an atomic bomb. Tehran denies this.
Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin declined to
comment on the Washington Post report, but said relations with
Turkey were "very complex".
"The Turks made a strategic decision ... to seek the
leadership of our region, in the Middle East, and they chose the
convenient anti-Israeli card in order to build up leadership,"
he told Israel Radio.
Energy Minister Silvan Shalom also declined to comment, but
told Israel Radio that after unrest shook the Arab world in
2011, Erdogan had sought to win "legitimisation as the
undisputed leader of the new revolution".
The United States tried to broker a reconciliation between
its allies Turkey and Israel in March, persuading Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologise for the 2010 killings.
However, Israeli officials said subsequent attempts to build
bridges by agreeing on a deal to compensate families of those
killed in the Israeli naval raid had floundered.
"The only thing that we have achieved since March is to show
the Americans that Erdogan is not remotely interested in a
reconciliation," said an Israeli diplomat, who declined to be
named given the sensitivity surrounding the issue.
Shortly after the 2010 incident off the shores of Gaza, the
then-Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak voiced concern that
Turkey could share Israeli intelligence secrets with Iran.
"There are quite a few secrets of ours (entrusted to Turkey)
and the thought that they could become open to the Iranians over
the next several months ... is quite disturbing," Israel's Army
Radio quoted him as saying in August 2010.