Israel dismisses Turkish reports on Gaza flotilla compensation deal

Turkish papers say Israel to pay Turkey $21 million for deaths in 2010 raid on Gaza-bound ships and end Gaza blockade, after which Erdogan will visit Jerusalem.

Israel knows nothing about a reported final compensation agreement for a deadly IDF raid on a Turkish Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, and did not coordinate any announcement on the matter, a source in Jerusalem told Ynet on Thursday.


The statement came after varying reports of a deal emerged in the Turkish media, including one report that Israel would end the blockade on the Gaza Strip.


Nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed when the commando raid aboard the Mavi Marmara turned violent, sparking a major crisis between the long-time regional allies and compensation demands from the victims' families.


According to the Daily Sabah Israel will pay Turkey $21 million in compensation and end the blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, as part of an agreement to end the diplomatic frost caused by the raid.


The paper quoted Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arınc as saying that the deal was reached last month. After Turkey's local elections on March 30, he reportedly said, the two countries would focus on striking a "binding legal resolution" on the reparations. After this date, Arınc reportedly told the paper, the official document be presented to the Turkish Grand National Assembly for approval.


In addition, The Turkish newspaper Zaman reported Thursday that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is planning to visit Israel at the end of April. According to the report, David Meidan, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's coordinator in Turkey has met with the Director of Turkish Intelligence Agency Hakan Fidan, and the two discussed the upcoming visit, reopening the embassies and potential business copperation regarding natural gas and oil in the Mediterranean Sea.


Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told AFP on Wednesday that his country hopes to soon end this difficult chapter with Israel.


In the diplomatic tussle since, "the gap between the expectations of the two sides is closing," Davutoglu said. "Progress has been made to a great extent, but the two sides need to meet again for a final agreement." 


Sticking points have been the amount of compensation and the legal status of the deal, but Arinc said earlier this week that an agreement would soon be signed.


He said that after local elections Sunday, "our first job will be making sure the compensation is bound by a legal document".


Davutoglu also said that "an answer is expected from the Israeli side" to Turkey's demands. "It is our preference, whether it will be before or after the elections... We do whatever is right at the right time."


Turkish senior diplomat Feridun Sinirlioglu was in Israel in February to discuss the terms of an agreement, aimed to normalise relations between the Jewish state and its once closest Muslim ally.


The May 2010 Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara provoked a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador, demanded a formal apology and compensation, and an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip.


Talks on compensation began a year ago after Israel extended a formal apology to Turkey in a breakthrough brokered by US President Barack Obama.


In February, Erdogan said there would be no agreement without a written commitment by Israel to lift its restrictions on the Gaza Strip, a comment that led Israel to accuse him of blocking a compensation deal.


In March 2013, Netanyahu talked with his Turkish counterpart and apologized for the outcome of the raid on the flotilla. Netanyahu's office issued an announcement saying that both prime ministers agreed to renew the relationship between the countries, and Turkey was halting the legal actions against IDF soldiers and commanders. On the compensation issue they agreed that Israel would transfer money to a humanitarian fund.


Turkey's foreign minister declined to comment on whether new ambassadors would likely be appointed as soon as an agreement is signed.


"What's important is to reach an agreement," Davutoglu said, speaking in his central home province of Konya. "The steps to be taken will be discussed when the agreement is made.


"I can say there's a positive momentum and a process in a positive direction."



פרסום ראשון: 03.27.14, 14:02
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