Israel and Turkey are in disagreement over the compensation the Jewish state is to pay to the families of the nine Turkish nationals who were killed during the IDF raid on the Gaza-bound ship in May 2010.
Israel wants to pay a total of $1 million to the families, while Turkey is demanding that each family receive $1 million.
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A year ago Jerusalem and Ankara agreed that the money would not be transferred directly to the families. Rather, the money is to be transferred to a humanitarian fund headed by the Turkish government, which will distribute it.
Israel agreed to pay $100,000 to each family, while the Turks are demanding $1 million for each of the families of those killed during the commando raid on the Mavi Marmara. Israel refused, and suggested paying the same amount paid by the Turkish army to the families of its fallen soldiers – 125,000 Turkish liras, or some $70,000.
'Thank you, Erdogan' billboard in Ankara (Photo: EPA)
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni discussed the compensation with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The countries agreed to set up a joint committee to deal with the compensation issue. The committee will be headed by Feridun Sinirlioglu, undersecretary of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a former ambassador to Israel, as well as by Benjamin Netanyahu's National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and Attorney Joseph Ciechanover, the prime minister's special envoy.
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday that officials delegated by the two sides will work on the compensation issue. "We gave the kickstart for it today," he told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting. He called the negotiations "a big success of Turkish foreign policy."
Three conditions. PM Erdogan (Photo: Reuters)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan clarified on Tuesday that the normalization of diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey will occur only if Israel implemented its side of the deal with Turkey. "We are waiting to see what will happen on the ground soon. If they (Israelis) show positive and promising steps – we will do our part as well," he said.
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Erdogan said Israel had agreed to lift the embargo on Gaza. Until now Turkey demanded that the "blockade" on Gaza be removed. It is estimated that Turkey changed its wording after realizing the Israel will not lift the blockade but will agree to allow more goods into the Hamas-ruled territory.
Erdogan said Tuesday that his government had rejected several Israeli proposals for reconciliation before the two countries agreed to normalize their relations.
According to Erdogan, Turkey insisted on three major conditions for the improvement of relations with Israel that included the use of the word "apology," Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper reported.
In a meeting with fellow party members Erdogan said, "We constantly gave them three conditions. An apology. They wanted to express sorrow, but we said no. We wanted the word apology.”
The Turkish prime minister claimed that Israeli officials had agreed to pay compensation to the Marmara victims' families but were reluctant to meet Ankara's two other demands: an apology and an end of the Gaza blockade. "“They said, ‘Isn’t it enough if we pay?’ We said no,” Erdogan told party members.
Itamar Eichner is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent
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