Turkey, Israel close to reconciliation pact

Turkey, Israel are reported to be taking steady steps to restore diplomatic relations five years after Mavi Marmara incident

Photo by: AA (Archive)
Photo by: AA (Archive)

Mavi Marmara, Freedom Flotilla ship

Updated Dec 18, 2015

Turkish and Israeli officials met in Switzerland on Thursday where a preliminary reconciliation deal was set to be reached between the two countries, a senior Turkish official said.

The relationship between the two countries is still strained, but efforts to normalise relations are continuing, official reportedly added.

The deal is said to have been agreed upon during a meeting between Israel's top National Security Advisor Yossi Cohen, Israeli envoy Joseph Ciechanover and the Turkish Foreign Ministry under secretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has earlier said that Israel is required to fulfill three necessary steps to reach an agreement between the two countries.

“We have main headlines about Israel; an apology for 2010 Mavi Marmara raid, compensation for the victims’ families of the raid and lifting of the embargo on Palestine,” Erdogan said.

“They apologised for Mavi Marmara. However, the last two demands have not been fulfilled.”

It’s not known whether any agreements were reached on Turkey’s two other demands, however, sources close to Turkish authorities said Turkey and Israel are working hard to complete the normalization process as soon as possible.

Within the framework of the preliminary agreement, Israel will pay Turkey $20 million in compensation, which will be transferred to a fund that will be used to compensate the relatives of the Mavi Marmara victims.

The Mavi Marmara was a passenger ship owned by a Turkish NGO - the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) - and was one of the six civilian ships of an international coalition called the Free Gaza Movement targeted by an Israeli military operation on May 31, 2010.

The Gaza flotilla was attacked by the Israeli Navy in international waters as it attempted to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Nine Turkish citizens were killed on board and 30 other people were injured. One of the injured activists died nearly four years after being critically injured.

As a result of fulfilling Turkey’s preconditions for a resolution process, Turkey will drop the charges against Israel.

Both countries will now work to normalise their ties and return their ambassadors to Tel Aviv and Ankara.

"The agreement has still not been given a final signature and we still have to work on some details, but the crisis is on the way to being resolved," said a senior Israeli official.

Meanwhile, sources close to the Turkish Prime Ministry rejected the claims that the agreement between Turkey and Israel to normalize relations also includes exploring natural gas fields and Turkey buying natural gas from Israel.

Israeli media outlets said on Thursday, once the final agreement has been reached between Turkey and Israel, the two countries will explore cooperating in natural gas fields with Turkey buying natural gas from Israel. Moreover, a gas pipeline will be constructed to run via Turkey, which will lead to Israel exporting gas to Europe.

However, the Turkish Prime Ministry sources said the negotiations are focused on the Mavi Marmara issue and lifting the blockade from Gaza.

TRTWorld and agencies