Turkish PM Binali Yıldırım and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing separate but simultaneous press conferences, have said that a deal for the normalisation of relations between the two countries had been reached.
Yıldırım said the deal would be signed on 28th June and would be taken for confirmation to the cabinet in Israel and to parliament in Turkey, which would then be followed by the mutual assignment of ambassadors as soon as possible – a process that could be completed within “weeks.”
Relations between Israel and Turkey rapidly deteriorated after the Israeli navy killed ten Turkish pro-Palestinian activists on the Mavi Mara aid vessel which was attempting to breach an Israeli blockade in Gaza, on 10th May 2010.
Prime Minister Yıldırım also stated that Israel would pay US$20 million in compensation to the relatives of the Mavi Marmara victims.
All claims against Israeli soldiers in Turkey will be dropped in exchange for the compensation payment. As the deal will be an international agreement approved by parliament, it will be positioned above domestic law and all charges against the Israeli navy officers will need to be dropped.
For his part, PM Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that his country’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip would remain following the agreement, though Turkey has been granted aid concessions to be sent to Palestine.
“The first ship carrying over 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid from Turkey to Gaza, part of the deal between Turkey and Israel, will set out for Ashdod Port on Friday [July 1],” Yıldırım said.
Yıldırım said the embargo on Gaza would “largely be lifted under the leadership of Turkey.”
He added that a 200 bed Turkey-Palestine “friendship hospital” would also be put into service as soon as possible under the deal.
Included in the deals struck between the two countries, will be the construction of a new power station and a desalination plant for drinking water.
The prime minister also said the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) was pursuing a housing development project in Gaza.
Netanyahu said the deal opened the way for conveying potential supplies of Israeli gas to Europe, via Turkey. He described the agreement as having immensely positive implications for Israel’s economy.