Turkey-Israel resume rapprochement talks in Geneva

Turkish official says talks aimed at improving relations between Israel and Turkey are ‘going well’, as negotiations among representatives continue in Geneva

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

Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu gestures in an undated photo

Talks between Turkey and Israel to mend fences are going well but a deal has not yet been reached in efforts to improve relations and increase energy cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesman Omer Celik said on Thursday referring to negotiations ongoing in Switzerland.

"We have information that the talks are going well but unless we see practical implications of the talks, we cannot say it's a done deal," Celik told reporters in Ankara. 

Israel seeks to transport gas by pipeline possibly via Turkey plugging the East Mediterranean into Europe's grid and providing an alternative to Russia.

The two countries have restarted talks in Switzerland in order to normalise diplomatic ties, Turkish media reported late Wednesday.

The meeting held in Geneva was between the Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy Joseph Ciechanover.

The gathering comes a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted a committee from "Conference of Presidents", a US based Jewish organisation.

Turkey has many times voiced its three conditions to normalise relations with Israel, two of them have been covered so far.

The country had requested an apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed in the Mavi Marmara attack as well as the removal of Israel’s blockade on Gaza.

Mavi Marmara was a Comoros-flagged passenger ship owned by a Turkish NGO - the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) - and was one of the six civilian ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla targeted in international waters by an Israeli military operation on May 31, 2010. 

Ten were killed and 30 others wounded in the attack and the two countries downgraded their relations.

A group of Turkish people gather on the fourth anniversary of the Mavi Marmara ship in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, May 30, 2014

The first of these conditions was fulfilled in 2013 when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the attack.

In last December, as part of a preliminary reconciliation deal between Israeli and Turkish officials, the two sides agreed to return their ambassadors to Tel Aviv and Ankara, as Israel agreed to pay $20 million to compensate the relatives of the Mavi Marmara victims.

As for Turkey’s third condition concerning Israel’s blockade on Gaza, Turkey insists on a two-state solution.

The Gaza Strip came under blockade by Israel and Egypt in 2007 after Hamas came to power in the enclave.

The 1.8 million inhabitants of Gaza, have been deprived of many of their most basic needs under the blockade.

TRTWorld and agencies