Erdoğan: Agreement with Israel almost reached; normalization a matter of days, weeks

Turkish PM says in an exclusive interview with American journalist Charlie Rose, the only delay to assigning ambassadors & resuming diplomatic relations is final agreement on Turkish aide to Palestinians.



In an exclusive interview with American journalist Charlie Rose on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that an agreement on compensation between Turkey and Israel had been reached and that normalization between the two countries was, “a matter of days, weeks” away. However, he also stated that discussions about Turkish humanitarian aide to Palestinians was holding up a finalization of the agreement.

Turkish PM Erdogan

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan addresses members of the parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara on January 28, 2014 – Photo: Adem Altan /AFP

Israeli diplomatic officials disputed assertions by the Turkish media on Monday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was delaying approval of a compensation agreement with Turkey that would bring to an end the Mavi Marmara saga. At that time the Hurriyet Daily News quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the agreement was finalized and submitted to Netanyahu and Erdoğan, and that Netanyahu had been “avoiding ratifying the deal for at least two months.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to respond to either report.

Israeli sources have stated that despite reaching an agreement on compensation, government approval in Ankara would be needed for new legislation, since the deal would require ending current and future legal proceedings against IDF commanders and officers.

Mavi Marmara

Mavi Marmara – Photo: Stringer Turkey/Reuters

Just before last month’s municipal elections in Turkey, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc was quoted as saying a compensation deal would be signed just after the elections, and diplomatic relations would be fully restored.

Israeli and Turkish diplomats met four times in the last year, working up to an agreement that would conclude the process of normalization of relations. A process that began with Netanyahu’s apology last year for any mistakes that led to the death of nine Turkish activists on the Turkish ship trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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