Turkey – Israel relations on the mend

Turkey and Israel are approaching normalisation of diplomatic relations as both countries are about to reach an agreement on compensation payment to the victims of the 2010 “Mavimara” incident.

In 2010, nine Turkish citizen were killed while on board the Turkish vessel ‘Mavi Marmara’ which was on a humanitarian aid mission when it was raided by Israeli forces.

With the encouragement of US President Obama, Israel issued an apology to Turkey on 22nd March, 2013, but the normalisation process could not be completed because there was disagreement on the amount of compensation and its legal implications.

Diplomats from both countries met several times last year, and Turkish and Israeli diplomatic sources have confirmed that the two countries have almost reached an agreement on the terms that would conclude the process of normalisation following Israel’s apology offered to Turkey last year for the incident.

“There are positive developments with regard to fixing the compensation issue. An agreement is almost ready and is waiting for the finalization of some minor issues before being submitted to the two countries’ leadership,” a diplomatic source has said.

“The amount of compensation for those who were killed and wounded in the ‘Mavi Marmara’ operation, plus the damages inflicted on the vessel, will be around a few million dollars,” sources said, without giving further details.

Another issue dogging the compensation was its legal definition. Turkey had insisted that Israel accepts liability on the attack and the killing of Turkish citizens. Sources said that Israel could accept responsibility, albeit on the condition that it receives firm assurance that future criminal cases will not be initiated against the Israeli commanders and soldiers who took part in the attack.

Also the agreement to be made between the two countries will automatically nullify ongoing criminal cases against Israeli soldiers. The Israelis want the signing of the agreement to signify the end the legal dispute between the two parties, as well as provide an opportunity for political reconciliation.

Diplomatic sources on both sides say that they are waiting for prime ministerial approval for the almost completed deal. Should this take place, then an immediate exchange of ambassadors will be arranged to make more evident the normalisation between the two countries.

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