After Israel issued an official apology to Turkey for the killing of Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was boarded by Israeli forces as it was on its way to attempt to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010, the first step in re-normalizing relations between the two countries will be the payment of compensation to the families of those killed.
Turkish and Israeli diplomats will meet within the next few days to discuss details of the compensation to the families of the nine Turks killed in the incident, according to Turkish media. The two sides have already begun the compensation process, and so the diplomats will meet only to finalize the technical details.
"The normalization process will be gradual," a Turkish diplomat said, adding that the two countries will exchange ambassadors. Ankara recalled its ambassador to Israel immediately after the Marmara incident and reduced diplomatic relations with Israel to the lowest level.
Among other things, Turkey blocked cooperation between Israel and NATO, especially in military exercises. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last night that the rapprochement with Israel was "a one-time opportunity to promote peace in the Middle East." Erdogan said the that the apology had been received on Turkey's terms.
A statement from the Prime Minister's Office in Israel said, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke today (Friday, 22 March 2013), with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. PM Netanyahu told him he had just had good conversations with President Obama about regional cooperation and the importance of Israel-Turkey relations. He regretted the recent deterioration of relations between Israel and Turkey and expressed his commitment to overcoming their differences in order to advance peace and stability in the region. PM Netanyahu said he had seen PM Erdogan's recent interview in a Danish newspaper and appreciated his words. He made clear that the tragic outcome of the Mavi Marmara incident was not intended by Israel and that Israel regrets the loss of human life and injury.
"In light of Israel's investigation into the incident which pointed to a number of operational mistakes, the Prime Minister expressed Israel's apology to the Turkish people for any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury and agreed to conclude an agreement on compensation/nonliability. Prime Minister Netanyahu also noted that Israel had substantially lifted the restrictions on the entry of civilian goods into the Palestinian territories, including Gaza , and that this would continue as long as calm prevailed. The two leaders agreed to continue to work to improve the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 24, 2013
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