Gov’t looks to the future with Israel .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Turkey said Monday that it wants to maintain ties with regional ally Israel and move beyond Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan's recent dramatic outburst over the Gaza conflict.

"We give special importance to our bilateral ties with Israel and we want to preserve ties with that country," Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek told reporters after a cabinet meeting, AFP reported.

"We are now looking toward the future. Turkey is not targeting Israel and the Israeli people," he said.

Meanwhile, an Israeli government official said Turkey's role in mediating the Israeli-Arab conflict has been compromised by its leader's repeated censure of Israel's recent war in the Gaza Strip, the Associated Press reported.

"He won't mediate anything any more," the official said. "His stint as mediator between Israel and the Arabs is over, that's for sure. He won't be accepted as an honest broker by Israel at all."

Erdoğan on Thursday stormed out of a debate on the Gaza war at the World Economic Forum in Davos after a clash with Israeli President Shimon Peres, saying Israel committed "barbarian" acts in the Hamas-ruled territory.

Israeli officials seek to diffuse tensions
Upon his return to Turkey, he defended his reaction, saying his anger was directed at "the practices of the Israeli government."

Israeli officials have sought to defuse tensions, with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni saying at the weekend that it was possible to repair the damage.

Turkey is one of Israel's rare allies in the Muslim world, but Erdogan has been a fierce critic of the Jewish state's military onslaught on Gaza that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead.

He was also under fire for what many saw as remarks in favour of Hamas, a movement listed as a terrorist group by much of the West. Ankara argues that any solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has to take the Islamist movement into account.