Turkey on Wednesday confirmed that it is negotiating a reconciliation deal with Israel that would reboot the former allies’ relationship, which has deteriorated since the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident.
“It’s quite normal for the two countries to talk for the normalization of the ties. How can reconciliation be achieved without holding any meetings?” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara, AFP reported.
“These meetings are not new. Expert-level talks have been held between the two countries for a while,” he added.
Cavusoglu stressed that “the ball is in the court” of Israel regarding two Turkish demands—the lifting of the maritime blockade on Gaza and financial compensation for families of the nine Turks who were killed on the flotilla. In the incident, Turkish militants had initiated clashes by attacking Israeli soldiers who boarded the Mavi Marmara vessel, which was attempting to breach the Gaza blockade.
“We are waiting for an answer from [Israel]. An agreement could perhaps have been reached much earlier, but the process has been delayed because of the domestic balances of Israel,” Cavusoglu said.
The confirmation of reconciliation talks comes just weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party, who are known for their hostility toward Israel, lost a majority in the Turkish parliament. The electoral setback for Erdogan likely thwarted his ambition of amending Turkey’s constitution to give the presidency more executive power.