Israel’s Netanyahu delays compensation agreement with Turkey
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has delayed approval of a compensation agreement with Turkey that is designed to produce reconciliation between the countries over the Mavi Marmara incident, diplomatic sources have told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Netanyahu’s hesitance is due to domestic political concerns as he has already been under pressure due to the peace process with Palestinians, which was recently suspended after Fatah and Hamas signed a unity deal, according to the sources.
The agreement has been finalized and the text has been submitted for the approval of prime ministers of Turkey and Israel, but Netanyanu is the one who has been avoiding ratifying the deal for at least two months, the sources said.
Following months of negotiations, the deal was set to be signed after local elections in Turkey on March 30, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arınç said.
The final reconciliation text on the monetary figure was delivered by Israel in February, Arınç said, adding that the Turkish government would re-evaluate and turn it into an official agreement to be approved by the two countries after the elections.
Turkey and Israel launched compensation talks for the Mavi Marmara victims after Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu issued an apology to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his Navy’s raid on the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla on May 31, 2010, which killed nine Turks.
However, the normalization process could not be completed because of differences on the amount of compensation and its legal definition. The two countries’ diplomats met at least four times last year.
The difference between Turkey and Israel on the amount of money was quite high, but the parties narrowed their expectations to find a middle point in a bid to make a deal possible.
When the agreement is signed, relations between two countries will be normalized at a diplomatic level assigning ambassadors, as both Turkey and Israel have even decided on the names of candidate envoys.
Ties between Israel and Turkey hit a new low following the raid in 2010, but pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama convinced Netanyahu to call Erdoğan last March to apologize for the deadly operation and promise compensation the families of the Turkish victims. Netanyahu also expressed regret over the deterioration in bilateral relations and noted his commitment to working out disagreements in order to advance peace and regional stability.
In his apology, Netanyahu also promised to ease the blockade on Gaza, something that the activists on the Mavi Marmara were attempting to do when they were raided by Israeli forces.