Deal with Israel to be finalized ‘very soon,’ Turkey says
Reuters photoTurkish and Israeli teams have made progress toward finalizing an agreement to mend ties between the two countries, agreeing that a deal will be finalized in the next meeting to be convened “very soon,” Ankara has announced.
“The Turkish and Israeli negotiating teams, headed by the undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu; the Israeli prime minister’s special envoy, Joseph Ciechanover; and the acting chairman of the National Security Council, Gen. Jacob Nagel, met in London today,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released on April 8.
“The teams made progress toward finalizing the agreement and closing the gaps, and agreed that the deal would be finalized in the next meeting which will be convened very soon,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Turkey was once Israel’s closest regional ally, but ties collapsed in 2010 over the killing by Israeli marines of 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists who tried to breach the Gaza blockade.
In response, Turkey demanded an apology for the killings, compensation for the Mavi Marmara victims and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza in exchange for restoring relations. Israel provided the apology, but the two sides have yet to reach a deal on the remaining two issues.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry did not say what form a deal might take but Ankara has always insisted there can be no normalization in ties with Israel unless its conditions for ending the Gaza blockade and compensation for the deaths of the activists are met.
Israel allows commercial goods into Gaza daily but limits the transfer of certain items such as cement and building materials as it fears militants could use them to build fortifications.
Officials describe the blockade on Gaza, which is supported by neighboring Egypt, as a necessary means of preventing arms smuggling by Palestinian militants.