Israel reaches reconciliation deal with Turkey

2016-06-27 07:14


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Jerusalem - Israel has reached a reconciliation deal with Turkey to end a bitter six-year rift between the Mideast powers, an official said on Sunday.

Relations between the former close allies imploded in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid that killed nine Turkish activists, including a dual American citizen, who were on a ship trying to breach Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Following the incident, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel and greatly scaled back military and economy ties. But relations were never broken completely.

Turkey's move toward rapprochement with Israel comes amid its deepening isolation in the region following a breakdown of ties with Russia and Egypt as well as the turmoil in neighbouring Syria.

Gaza agreement

The Israeli official confirmed the details of the agreement on Sunday. He spoke on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on an official visit to Rome, is expected to announce details on Monday, and the two sides plan to sign the agreement on Tuesday. Turkey's new prime minister, Binali Yildirim, was also scheduled to make an announcement in Ankara.

The Israeli official said the impending deal would include $20 million in Israeli compensation for families of those killed in the raid, an end to all Turkish claims against Israeli military personnel and the state of Israel over the raid, and the mutual restoration of ambassadors.

A senior Turkish official said that under the agreement, Turkey would deliver "humanitarian aid and other non-military products" to Gaza and engage in infrastructure investments, including the construction of residential buildings and the completion of a 200-bed hospital.

Turkey would also be involved in projects addressing energy and water shortages in Gaza, the official said, adding that "the amount of electricity and drinking water to Gaza residents will increase and new power plants will be constructed."

Continued support for Palestine

The official, who cannot be named because he was not authorised to speak publicly on the deal, said the agreement did not make any reference to Turkey's ties to Hamas, saying "Turkey will continue supporting the Palestinian state and the people of Palestine." The militant Islamic group Hamas controls Gaza.

The Israeli official said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to a separate document instructing all relevant Turkish agencies to help resolve the issue of Israel's missing citizens, apparently referring to the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war which are believed to be held by Hamas.

An Israeli of Ethiopian descent and a Bedouin from Israel's Arab minority are also believed to be held in Gaza.

Families of the soldiers had urged the government to hold off on any reconciliation deal until their plight is addressed. Relatives of one of the soldiers, Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, set up a protest tent outside Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem.

Read more on:    recep tayyip erdogan  |  benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  gaza  |  turkey

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