Israel and Turkey to re-establish full diplomatic relations
Israel and Turkey have reportedly reached basic agreements to re-establish full diplomatic relations, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirms. The ambassadors, who were withdrawn after the Marmara flotilla incident in May 2010, will return to Ankara and Tel Aviv respectively.
As part of the agreement Israel will establish a compensation fund for the nine Turkish civilians killed when the Israeli navy boarded the Marmara, which was trying to run the Gaza blockade. Turkey will drop allclaims against Israel on the matter. The IDF insisted that the civilians attacked the Israeli soldiers with metal bars and other weapons.
The accord has been forged by the new Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and Joseph Ciechanover, who represented Israel in the committee of enquiry to the Marmara incident. The two Israelis met in Switzerland with senior Turkish foreign ministry official Feridun Sinirlioglu and reached the latest understandings.
News of the accord was first reported last night on Israel's Channel 10 news. The understandings include plans to open talks on selling Israel's gas to Turkey and the laying of an undersea pipeline in the Mediterranean. This comes on the very day that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the gas framework agreement that will allow the development of the giant Leviathan field.
Also in the understandings, Turkey has committed to banning Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri from Turkey. Israel claims he is using Turkey as a base to launch terrorist operations against it.
For the past five and a half years Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been one of Israel's harshest critics, especially on its actions over Gaza. But his stance has softened in recent weeks since relations with Russia have become strained over Syria and the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by the Turks. Earlier this week Erdogan called for Israel and Turkey to normalize relations.
A senior White House official told the "New York Times." “We would welcome this step in improving relations between two of our key allies in the region, particularly given our common interests and the challenges we face."
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