Israel, Turkey may strike deal on June 26
Deniz Zeyrek – ANKARA
REUTERS photoStrained relations between once close allies Turkey and Israel may be nearing recovery, with both parties agreeing to conclude a deal on June 26, sources have said.
Delegations from both sides, headed by Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and the Israeli prime minister’s special envoy, Joseph Ciechanover, will meet on June 26 to declare that they have reached a deal to end the six-year-long conflict, according to high-level sources speaking on condition of anonymity.
The relationship between Turkey and Israel was severely strained after the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara vessel was raided by Israeli commandos in 2010, killing nine Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American citizen on board.
Sources said that after the declaration on June 26, the agreement would be finalized and signed in July by the Foreign Ministry undersecretaries of both countries.
With the reciprocal reappointment of ambassadors, diplomatic relations are expected to be normalized by the end of July.
If all this passes without a hitch, both countries’ reservations regarding each other in international agreements will also be lifted. As a result, the last obstacles to joint military exercises, joint energy investments, and joint defense investments will also be removed.
Upon Turkey’s demand, Israel apologized to Turkey in 2013, in what many thought would trigger a warming in ties. But tensions soared again the following year after Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza.
After years of bitter accusations and inflammatory rhetoric, the two sides started holding secret talks in December 2015 to seek a rapprochement, with other rounds taking place in Geneva and London in 2016.
Compensation for the Mavi Marmara victims and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza were the other two conditions that Turkey demanded from Israel in exchange for a repairing of relations.
Both parties have previously signaled that the issue regarding the compensation to be paid to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims has been resolved, though an official announcement on the issue was never made.
Sources said the two sides have met halfway on Turkey’s last and most controversial condition – the lifting of the embargo on Gaza. Accordingly, Israel has accepted the finalization of procedures for a hospital to be be built to serve Gazans, and will not put forward any obstacles to Turkish supplies of medicine and personnel for the hospital.
Meanwhile, Turkey and Germany will jointly build an energy power plant in Gaza to supply the electricity demand in the region, while Turkey will also construct a sea water distillation plant.
All the aid from Turkey will be delivered to Gaza on condition that it is transferred from the Ashdod port.
The steps for normalization of ties come after Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım sent reconciliatory messages to Israel on June 17.
“We are coming to a point with Israel. They are also showing the will. There are contacts. It’s not concluded yet but I don’t think it will take long. The most important thing here is lifting the isolation of Gaza for humanitarian purposes,” Yıldırım had said