Israel and Turkey have agreed to normalize ties after a six-year rift in their diplomatic relationship.
“Israel and Turkey are two major regional powers,” Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said. “The disconnect between us prevented necessary cooperation.”
Turkish-Israeli relations broke down after the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, in which nine Turkish militants were killed in clashes after they attacked Israeli commandos who boarded a ship that was trying to breach the blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza.
According to reports citing Israeli and Turkish officials, the normalization deal includes $20 million in Israeli compensation for the families of those killed in the flotilla incident, an end to all Turkish legal claims against the Israeli military over the interception, and the mutual restoration of ambassadors. Turkey will be allowed to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza and to invest in infrastructure there, including the construction of residential buildings and a hospital.
“Israel and Turkey are natural allies in many ways,” said American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris. “They are anchors of the region. They share common threats and concerns. They have overlapping energy interests. They have complementary economies. Accordingly, cooperation is a far better alternative than conflict.”
While Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the maritime blockade on Gaza was “largely lifted” as part of the agreement, Israel is disputing that assertion.
“This is a supreme security interest of ours,” Netanyahu said regarding the blockade. “I was not willing to compromise on it. This interest is essential to prevent the force-buildup by Hamas and it remains as has been and is.”
Reports indicate that Turkey’s ties to Hamas, the terror group ruling Gaza, were not addressed in the agreement.