Israel and Turkey on Verge of Signing New Pact, Ending Several Years of Enmity

January 18, 2016

2 min read

A rapprochement agreement between Israel and Turkey will be signed very soon, reports Globes. Citing Turkish paper Huriyet, the Israeli business paper said that once the agreement is signed, the two nations will again exchange ambassadors.

Relations between Israel and Turkey soured in 2010, when Turkish nationals participated in a flotilla to break the legal blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza. While other ships responded peacefully to the Israeli Navy’s efforts to halt the flotilla, activists aboard one ship, the Mavi Marmara, resisted violently, resulting in the deaths of nine Turks at the hands of Israeli commandos.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set three conditions for reconciliation: that Israel apologize for the Mavi Marmara, that it pay reparations to the families of those killed in the incident, and that the Jewish state end its blockade on the Gaza Strip.

In March 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fulfilled the first condition at the urging of US President Barack Obama, and negotiations on the remaining two conditions have been ongoing since then.

Further discussions resulted in Israel’s agreement in principle to pay $20 million to a special welfare fund which would distribute money to the families of the dead and wounded from the flotilla.

In return, Turkey will agree to prevent “terrorist activity” in its territory and expel Salah al-Arouri, a senior Hamas member suspected of planning the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June of 2014. Al-Arouri took refuge in Turkey, though sources there say he has long since left.

Turkey will also halt legal proceedings against senior IDF officers, such as former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, in command at the time of the flotilla incident.

Additionally, the agreement discusses the export of natural gas from Israel to Turkey, effective immediately. Several senior Israeli officials, including Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Yuval Steinitz, see the export of gas to Turkey as a means of advancing Israel’s agreements with energy exploration companies to develop the country’s largest oil reserve, Leviathan.

Turkey is also seeking alternative sources of energy, as its relationship with Russia deteriorated significantly after Turkey took down a Russian plane it says invaded its airspace.

Most recently, Erdogan acknowledged the importance of positive relations between Israel and Turkey. On December 31, as he returned from a visit to Saudi Arabia, he said, “Israel is in great need of a country like Turkey in the region. We must accept the fact that we also have need of Israel.”

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