Turkish official: Agreement with Israel could come in two months

May 31, 2016  

Mustafa Sarnic, the Turkish ambassador to the Palestinian Authority (PA), on Tuesday expressed optimism about the possibility of reaching a normalization agreement between Turkey and Israel.

Speaking with Hamas’s Palestine newspaper, Sarnic estimated that the final agreement between the two countries will be reached in less than two months.

He added that the sides have reached agreements on several issues, and the only issue remaining on the negotiating table is the blockade on Gaza and the welfare of its citizens.

The foreign ministries of the two countries are to publish an update on the agreements that have already been achieved, said Sarnic.

Israel and Turkey have been holding talks in an attempt to renew ties that were cut after the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

That incident involved a Turkish flotilla trying to breach the naval blockade. The main ship, later found not to be carrying humanitarian goods despite its claims, refused orders to turn around and forced IDF soldiers to board it where they were attacked and wounded by Islamists armed with knives and metal bars. The soldiers were forced to open fire to defend themselves, killing ten.

Under pressure from President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey over the incident, and last December Israel reportedly agreed to pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the Islamists.

Talks have stalled, however, over Gaza – and after Turkey reportedly demanded Israel lift its import and export restrictions on the Hamas terror stronghold.

On Monday, Netanyahu told a delegation of visiting U.S. congressmen that an agreement on reconciliation with Turkey is very close.

Sources said Netanyahu was very optimistic about relations with Turkey, repeating his statements on the matter three times during the meeting.

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