Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday told an Israel Radio reporter that he thinks he’ll be able to “fix ties” with the Jewish state, after five years of tense relations exacerbated by an IDF maritime raid that left 10 Turks dead.
Erdogan was speaking to reporters at the United Nations conference on climate change, near Paris. But his security detail shoved the journalists away before the Turkish president could elaborate on the details of his plan.
Relations between Israel and Turkey have been frosty since Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the largest ship in a May 2010 aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip. The boarding took place in international waters after the Israel Navy asked the ships to sail to Ashdod, where their cargo would be unloaded and transferred to Gaza by land after undergoing a security inspection.
The activists on board refused; nine Turks were killed and seven Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded in violence that erupted when the Israeli troops were attacked with clubs and iron bars as they boarded the vessel, and opened fire on their assailants. A 10th activist died of his wounds in 2014, after four years in a coma.
The incident triggered a major diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Jerusalem.
Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador, demanded a formal apology and compensation and an end to the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Islamist Palestinian terror group Hamas. Erdogan is a strong supporter of Hamas, and rejects the notion that it is a terrorist organization.
Talks on compensation began in 2013 after Israel extended a formal apology to Turkey in a breakthrough brokered by US President Barack Obama.
The Israeli government reportedly presented a deal to pay compensation to the families of the victims, but an agreement has not yet been forthcoming. Turkey said in June that it was holding talks with Israel over a deal to reconcile the two former allies.