The signing of the new Israel-Turkey agreement will only come after President Racep Tayyip Erdoğan’s gov’t makes legislative changes that guarantee the cessation of ongoing lawsuits brought against IDF officers in the Turkish courts.
By Itamar Eichner
Israeli and Turkish negotiation teams were set to meet Sunday in Rome, in order to finalize the two countries’ reconciliation deal, six years after their relationship soured due to the Mavi Marmara incident.
Most of the deal’s details have already been agreed upon, but a number of adjustments are expected to be made. The two sides are hoping to announce the conclusion of negotiations by day’s end, and perhaps even partake in an initial signing.
The deal is expected to be approved by the Israeli Security Cabinet and the Turkish government on Wednesday while the official signing is expected to take place next month. The signing, however, will only come after President Racep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government makes legislative changes which will oversee the cessation of lawsuits brought against IDF officers in Turkey.
Their agreement reportedly comprises 8 central points:
1. Israel and Turkey will reestablish full diplomatic and normalized relations, including the exchange of Ambassadors and mutual state visits. The two parties will also committ themselves to refraining from acting in a manner deemed harmful to their respective interests in international fora such as NATO and the UN.
2. The Turks will withdraw demands that the blockade on Gaza be lifted in exchange for an Israeli pledge to allow for the delivery of Turkish aid to Gaza via the Ashdod port, after it goes through Israeli inpection. Israel will also allow the Turks to build a new power plant, desalination plant (in cooperation with Germany), and hospital in Gaza.
3. The agreement does not contain a clause dealing with the return of Israeli civilian Avera Mengiustu, who has been missing in Gaza since September of 2014, or the return of the remains of fallen soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin who were killed in Operation Protective Edge earlier that same year. The Turkish government, however, promises that it will undertake efforts to secure the release of the soldiers’ remains through its contacts with Hamas. It also agreed to be a mediator between Israel and Hamas if necessary.
4. Israel will transfer approximately $21 million to a Turkish humanitarian fund that will provide money to the families of those who were killed or wounded in the Marmara incident.
5. Turkey will terminate all ongoing legal proceedings in Turkish courts against Israeli officers invloved in the Marmara incident.
6. Turkey will prevent Hamas from using the country as a base from which to work against Israel. In turn, Israel has rescinded its demand that Turkey expel Hamas’ command center from the country. Senior Hamas member Salah al-Arouri, who was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Israeli teenagers Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach in Gush Etzion in the summer of 2014, is no longer in Turkey, and the authorities there have promised that he would not be allowed to return.
7. The two nations will resume their military cooperation and begin sharing intelligence once more.
8. The two countries will begin official talks regarding the laying of a gas pipeline, so that Israel’s natural gas reserves may be extracted and transported. Turkey will express interest in purchasing gas from Israel and selling it to European markets.
Israel’ representatives in the negotiation were Joseph Chicanover and Brig. Gen. (ret) Yaakov Nagel. Their Turkish counterpart was Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.
Israel updated Russia, Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus about the main points of the agreement, making it clear that no actions will be undertaken at the expense of its relationship with them.
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke of the coming agreement at the start of his government’s weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, saying, “There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation regarding the possible agreement that is being formulated with Turkey and therefore I would like to make it clear: We are continuing our constant efforts, both open and in secret, to bring Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin back to Israel, may their memories be blessed, and also the two Israelis being held in Gaza. We are in continuous contact with the families and we will neither rest nor be silent until we bring the boys back home.”
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