Return of Israeli soldiers’ remains from Gaza still an issue for normalization
AA photoThe issue of Hamas’ release of two Israelis believed to be held in the Gaza Strip, as well as the return to Israel of the bodies of two soldiers killed during the 2014 conflict, came on the agenda during Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s press conference on June 27, during which he provided details of a deal with Israel aimed at ending years of acrimony following a deadly 2010 raid on an aid flotilla.
The question on the issue was raised by Moav Vardi, a diplomatic correspondent of Channel 10 News in Israel. Vardi asked whether Yıldırım believed that the relations would really return to normal, whether real cooperation in security and tourism, as had been the case in the last decade before the rupture of ties in 2010, would be ensured or remain on paper and whether there would be an initiative by the Turkish side to have the funerals of Israeli soldiers who died in Gaza returned by Hamas.
“As far as I understand, you’re not sure about this agreement,” Yıldırım said in response to Vardi.
“It has taken years to come to this point in this agreement. This is an important step. The rest of the particulars will be evaluated according to the progression [of the agreement]. There are duties falling on both the Israeli and Turkish governments. Operating this agreement in the best way possible is in the interest of both the Turkish and Israeli peoples,” he continued.
“Other issues can be led up to a certain point through mutual meetings. Talking about all of these details, the Palestine side also has demands. Commenting on disjunctive issues here would not be very healthy,” Yıldırım concluded.
Leading Israeli daily Haaretz reported from Rome that Turkey had formally assured Israel on June 26 that it would discuss with Hamas the release of two Israelis believed to be held in the Gaza Strip, as well as the return to Israel of the bodies of two soldiers killed during the 2014 conflict.
Haaretz cited a senior Israeli official as saying that the Turkish negotiation team handed a letter to that effect to its Israeli counterpart during the meeting in Rome. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the families of the two missing Israelis - Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayeed - to brief them on this latest development, the senior official told reporters, according to Haaretz.