Turkey is preparing to submit the terms of its reconciliation with Israel to parliament, including a provision to shield Israel from legal action over the killing of Turkish citizens on a blockade-busting ship bound for the Gaza Strip in 2010.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu shared the deal’s text with opposition parties on Monday, excerpts of which were seen by Bloomberg, and the government is expected to seek parliamentary ratification this week. The agreement was reached between officials from both sides in June and approved by Israel’s security cabinet. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
The restoration of ties is expected to unlock energy contracts worth billions of dollars, as Israel seeks to export natural gas and Turkey looks to restore relations with regional allies that have soured in recent years. Russian economic sanctions since the Turkish military downed a Russian warplane have highlighted Turkey’s vulnerability to Moscow’s energy policies.
Israel has authorized a $20 million payment to compensate families of the victims of the naval raid on the Mavi Marmara-led flotilla, a Turkish ship that tried to breach the Israeli blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. According to the text of the deal, Turkey has agreed to cover any costs to Israel or Israelis that exceed that amount. Ten Turkish citizens died.
Other aspects of the deal were already publicized, including a provision for Turkey to transfer materials through Israel to build houses, a hospital, a power station and a desalination facility in Gaza. Turkey will also be able to build major projects in the West Bank, including an industrial zone in Jenin.
The mending of the Israel-Turkey rift is proceeding in tandem with negotiations to reunify the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, whose north has been occupied by the Turkish military since 1974. A solution to that conflict would allow Turkey to buy gas from Cyprus as well as Israel, bringing it closer to its long-held dream of becoming an energy hub between East and West.
(c) 2016, Bloomberg · Firat Kozok, Onur Ant