Turkey-Israel settlement reached

June 26, 2016  

Israel and Turkey reached a deal on Sunday aimed at ending years of acrimony and restoring normalized ties that soured after a 2010 flotilla to Gaza.

The highly anticipated agreement comes six years after a Gaza-bound ship departed Turkey in an attempt to break Israel’s anti-Hamas blockade. When Israeli forces boarded the vessel, they were attacked by pro-Hamas Turks on their way to the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers ultimately opened fire on the attackers, killing 10.

Both sides have been pushing to complete the deal in recent months, with Israel in search of a potential customer for its offshore gas exports and NATO member Turkey wanting to restore its regional clout, analysts say.

The United States has also pushed for the two countries to resolve the dispute as it seeks cooperation in the fight against extremists from the Islamic State terror organization.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, an Israeli official said the agreement had been finalized but that details would not be officially announced until Monday.

Negotiations were said to have been held in Rome, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed for talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday.

The agreement between the Muslim majority country and the Jewish state was expected to go before Israel’s security cabinet for approval on Wednesday.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is expected to talk about the Israel reconciliation deal at 1:00 pm in Ankara on Monday, a Turkish official said.

The Turkish official confirmed that “the Pime Minister will talk about the contents of the Turkey-Israel agreement at tomorrow’s press conference.”

Two of Turkey’s key conditions for normalization — an apology and compensation — were largely met earlier, leaving its third demand, that Israel lift its blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the main obstacle left.

Reports in recent days described a compromise on the issue.

Under the reported terms of the deal, Turkey’s aid to Gaza would be channeled through the Israeli port of Ashdod rather than sending it directly to the Hamas enclave, the reports

Turkey has also committed to keeping Islamist movement Hamas from carrying
out activities against Israel from its country, the Haaretz newspaper reported Sunday.

Hamas would continue to be able to operate from Turkey for diplomatic purposes, the paper said.

Israel has committed to depositing some $20 million in a fund for
compensation for the families of Turkish citizens killed during the 2010 attempt to run the Gaza blockade, the Israeli official said, ending all claims against Israeli soldiers.

Netanyahu has also come under pressure within Israel not to agree to the deal if it does not include provisions for Hamas to hand over four missing Israelis, including the remains of two soldiers presumed dead and two civilians believed to be held alive by Hamas in Gaza.

The Israeli official said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to instruct “all relevant Turkish agencies to help resolve the issue of Israel’s missing citizens.”

The deal is to result in the restoration of ambassadors, the Israeli official said.


AFP contributed to this report

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