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ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Ankara sends a warning to Israel, saying it must not engage in any ‘horse trading’ in discussing compensation for the Mavi Marmara raid

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People gather in front of the Mavi Marmara boat where pictures of the Israeli raid’s victims are shown. Israel is willing to pay $100,000 per victim. DAILY NEWS photo

People gather in front of the Mavi Marmara boat where pictures of the Israeli raid’s victims are shown. Israel is willing to pay $100,000 per victim. DAILY NEWS photo

Serkan Demirtaş Serkan Demirtaş serkan.demirtas@hdn.com.tr

Compensation talks between Turkey and Israel over the latter’s killings of nine Turkish citizens on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara vessel should not turn into “dirty bargaining,” Turkish officials have said, adding that Israel should prepare to pay a substantial amount to the victims’ families.

“Israel should perfectly know that this is not a process of bargaining. Compensation talks should not be turned into horse trading or dirty bargaining. We want to solve this issue in next week’s talks,” a diplomatic source told the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity. 

After Israel apologized late last month to Turkey over its attack against the vessel carrying activists to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza on May 31, 2010, the two countries agreed to hold talks to determine the amount of compensation and other legal terms as part of Turkey’s second condition for the normalization of their strained bilateral relations. 

Both Turkish and Israeli officials, as well as Americans as the mediator between its two allies, have admitted that the talks will not be easy, while expressing their conviction that next week’s negotiations will not hinder the reconciliation process. 

The Turkish side will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, but technical talks will be chaired by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu. A group of international legal experts will accompany him during the talks. The government’s decision to appoint Arınç as the head of the delegation is also important as he is seen as the Cabinet minister best-placed to explain the talks and deflect public criticism.

The Israeli side will also be represented by senior diplomats, including Yaakov Amidror, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, along with Netanyahu’s special envoy Joseph Ciechanover; both men signify the importance Israel has attached to the talks. 

“We want to close this issue in one session. Discussing human life for money is not a pleasant thing. This should be concluded in a most appropriate way,” the source said. 

According to unconfirmed Israeli press reports, Israel is willing to pay $100,000 per victim. Although they have not specified the amount of compensation in mind, Turkish officials have said “it should be a substantial amount.” 

Uludere cannot be compared to Mavi Marmara

Turkish experts studied similar examples from the past in which countries paid compensation to other nations’ citizens over acts that caused casualties. The studies showed that the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara differed from many other cases because it was intentional. As such, the Israeli effort to pay an amount similar to the 123,000 Turkish Liras ($69,000) paid by the Turkish government for the victims of the Uludere attack, in which the military killed 34 villagers in southeastern Anatolia in 2011, is inadmissible, according to Turkish officials.

Officials said the Mavi Marmara incident was far graver because it was overtly conducted upon the clear orders of the government, resulting in the killing of nine Turkish citizens. One other Turkish citizen was declared brain dead after the attack, making the number of families seeking compensation 10. 

Israel has conditions, too

The Israeli side, however, has demanded the end of all court cases against Israeli soldiers before it will discuss the issue of compensation, as per the terms of the apology agreement reached last month. Arınç openly advised the families to withdraw their cases in an interview, hinting that they might not get their money if they continue with their cases. He also recalled that court cases could last “years.” However, there are reports that not all families have been convinced to do so, potentially putting the compensation issue at risk. 

Officials, however, expressed their commitment to dealing with the problem and agreeing on compensation terms next week, regardless of whether or not families withdraw their cases. The agreement could include assurances provided by the Turkish government that it will not take any measures against the accused Israeli soldiers. 

To this end, the government could send a copy of the compensation agreement between Turkey and Israel to the relevant courts in a bid to inform them the financial demands of the complainants have been met. 

Apart from the cases opened by the families of the victims of the Mavi Marmara, there is also an ongoing criminal case against Israel, although it is unclear whether the case will be automatically dropped if Israel agrees to pay compensation.

April/15/2013

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Ken Alden

4/16/2013 1:47:31 PM

@Red Tail - Could you please describe you understanding of the words "Terror" and "Terrorism" so that we all will be on the same wavelenght! Thanks.

Adam Hanlon

4/15/2013 11:13:53 PM

Put 100,000 heavily armed Turkish peacekeepers into Palestine and Gaza. I bet the Israeli's won't be so smug after that.

Arnold Yesovitch

4/15/2013 8:22:41 PM

The Obama deal was agreed to by both Netanyahu and Erdogan. Erdogan needs to tell his populace to cease and desist re civil lawsuits. Then he can demand Israel avoid a "dirty bargaining". 1st come 1st.

Jason Hoppell

4/15/2013 6:55:51 PM

The "official" has already painted Israel as "dirty horse traders" before negotiations even started. Of course it's really Turkey that already started IT'S "dirty horse trading" even before discussions began? The "official" is just the mouthpeice of Erdogan, who is not even clever enough to disguise his despicable slander against the Jewish people by finding an opportunity to allude to them as "dirty horse traders". It's a pity that Turkey, a great nation, is RULED by such a dictator.

Baris

4/15/2013 6:02:19 PM

@charles smyth, there are no UN investigations which classified the murders on the MM as self defense. Even the much quoted Palmer Report criticised Israel for boarding the vessel without warning, for its excessive use of force and for the way people were killed. You can't just absolve Israel of guilt by simply labeling the deceased as terrorists.

Red Tail

4/15/2013 3:50:39 PM

The problem with the amount is not the cost as such. It is after all only money and Israel is a rich county. But the problem is that at least one of the killed people's relatives, have already declared that they will donate the compensation to Islamic Jihad and Hamas, two Islamist terror organisations. The effect will, accordingly be that israel will give money directly to terrorists who will use the money to buy weapons, bombs etc to attack Israel with rockets, suicide bombers etc.

charles smyth

4/15/2013 3:49:25 PM

Israel should limit any offer to Turkey to $1, as a token payment. Then Turkey's government can pay the families, from its own dirty hands, since it was the Turkish government, in league with the terrorists, as part of a play by Turkey for regional influence via the burnishing of Turkey's Islamist credentials, that necessitated the need for Israel to act in self-defense. The veracity of which, more than one UN investigation verified, yet Turkey refused to accept.

Al Rashid

4/15/2013 3:40:37 PM

I don't recall Turkish soldiers murdering anyone at point blank range, in the back. What the Turkish government does know, like the rest of the world, is that the zionist state are masters of moving the goal posts, prevaricating ad nauseum and well aware of Netanyahu's moral integrity so elequently summed up by Sarkozy a while back. They also know full well how a racist apartheid entity puts such little value on lives other than Jewish, so aptly expressed by their latest report/whitewash.

mara mcglothin

4/15/2013 3:28:52 PM

R COLLINS Exactly! The monetary measure of a life has been set with the Uludere killings. Israel would be wise to follow your advice.

R Collins

4/15/2013 1:35:12 PM

The Israeli government can avoid such complaints by adopting the Turkish government's approach. Ascertain how much compensation per person the Turkish government gave to the families of the smugglers killed when the Turkish government bombed them in mistaken belief they were terrorists. By using the Turkish government's own formula, the Israeli government will avoid any hint of being "dirty."
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