Israel Agrees to Offer Turkey Apology, Compensation, Says Haaretz

JERUSALEM (Hurriyet Daily News)–Israel has agreed in principle to offer an apology and pay compensation to Turkey for the normalization of bilateral relations that have severely deteriorated since the killing of Turkish citizens in an Israeli raid on an aid flotilla in May, a leading Israeli daily reported on Tuesday.

“Israel agreed in principle to apologize and pay compensation, and the Turks agreed that if these two aspects are adhered to they would ‘normalize’ relations with Israel and return their ambassador to Tel Aviv. Nonetheless, both the apology and compensation remain problematic from legal and political perspectives,” the English-language Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz reported, referring to the content of talks held between senior Turkish and Israeli diplomats on Sunday and Monday in Geneva.

Officials at the Turkish Foreign Ministry refused on Tuesday to comment on the content of talks held between Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu, undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and Yosef Ciechanover, the Israeli representative on the UN committee investigating the Gaza flotilla incident. The same officials also refused to make any comment on Haaretz’s report, without denying or confirming the report.

The Geneva talks were initiated after Turkey last week, on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s orders, sent fire-fighting aircraft to assist in the battle against a devastating fire in Israel.

Erdogan reiterated on Tuesday that there can be no “new era” in ties with Israel until it apologizes and offers compensation for its deadly raid, while stating that Israel must also end its blockade of Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week phoned Erdogan to express his gratitude for Turkey’s assistance. “Let’s say we are very appreciative of the fact that the Turkish government sent two planes at a time when we needed them. We greatly appreciate that,” Netanyahu said at a press conference Monday evening as he refused to answer questions on the issue of apology and compensation. “I think that is very important, and I expressed that appreciation, as well as my hope that this will enable us to move forward in an improvement of ties. Beyond that, I have nothing to say.”

Haaretz reported that Sinirlioglu and Ciechanover have agreed to present their ideas to the prime ministers to receive further instructions and noted that more discussions are due between legal experts on both sides.

“The two sides are trying to find a formula that would let Erdogan claim that the statement was an apology, but for Netanyahu to argue that it was not — only an expression of appreciation for Turkey’s assistance in putting out the fires in the Carmel region,” it said.

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