Turkey, Israel make first contact after apology

Turkey, Israel make first contact after apology

Turkey, Israel make first contact after apology

Deputy PM Bülent Arınç

Turkey and Israel on Monday made the first contact to start talks to formalize the latter’s payment of compensation to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims, the Turkish government has announced, following the Israeli apology to Turkey last week.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held a phone conversation with an Israeli official, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told reporters following the weekly Cabinet meeting today, without giving details.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have agreed to start technical talks at the level of senior foreign ministry officials in the coming days, sources told the Daily News.

The Turkish team will be chaired by Foreign Ministry undersecretary, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, according to sources.

The Israeli government has still yet to appoint a new foreign minister following the recent elections.

Israel issued a formal apology and agreed to pay compensation over its deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara vessel carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, which is tightly controlled by Israel. The attack claimed the lives of nine Turkish civilians.

The Israeli apology came nearly three years after the incident, which severely damaged once-good bilateral relations.

Arınç said Turkey would closely follow the implementation after the apology, adding that relations would improve accordingly in due course. Emphasizing that the Israeli statement also included removing the blockage not only in Gaza but also in the whole of Palestine, Arınç said the two countries would work closely to this end.

Asked whether the date of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Gaza had yet been fixed, Arınç said the prime minister was keen to visit Palestine but that the trip had not been finalized yet. “If possible, it will occur. If not, it may not take place,” he said.