Israel to receive first Turkish visit since Marmara crisis
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Israel to receive first Turkish visit since Marmara crisis

Delegation will meet with Israeli deputy minister on joint plans for new Palestinian industrial zone

Turkish economist Guven Sak speaking at the 2013 Euromed Forum in Barcelona (screen capture via YouTube)
Turkish economist Guven Sak speaking at the 2013 Euromed Forum in Barcelona (screen capture via YouTube)

A Turkish delegation advancing plans for a Palestinian industrial zone next to northern West Bank city Jenin was scheduled to visit Israel on Monday and meet with an Israeli official to discuss the project.

The delegation will be the first since a diplomatic crisis between the countries following a deadly clash by Israeli soldiers and activists aboard a Gaza-bound Turkish-flagged ship in 2010. It will be lead by Guven Sak, the chief of a research institute of the Turkish Manufacturers and Traders association, Hebrew-language news site NRG reported.

The mission will meet with Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara to advance the development of a local industrial zone that is expected to be built at the Gilboa Crossing next to Jenin.

The zone is initially supposed to occupy approximately 1,300 dunam (321 acres) of land and there are plans for its expansion. The land was bought by the Palestinians for $10 million, and Turkey was expected to invest $100 million in the project.

The initiative was being conducted in collaboration with the US, EU and Israel, and products produced in the zone will be fully exempt from US taxes.

Turkey expressed its readiness to transfer production from several of its large car production factories to the new industrial zone in order to support the Palestinian economy.

Ayoub Kara (screen capture via YouTube)
Ayoub Kara (screen capture via YouTube)

Kara called the collaboration a “ground-breaking initiative, which will strengthen the Palestinian economy and contribute to the rehabilitation of relations between Israel and its neighbors, and Turkey in particular.”

The initiative will also “strengthen commercial and economic cooperation in the Middle East,” Kara added.

Israel on Saturday began to export defense-related products to Turkey, in an effort to improve ties between the two countries, NRG reported.

In 2010, Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the largest ship in an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip. The boarding took place in international waters after the Israeli 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 activists were killed and seven IDF soldiers were wounded in violence that erupted after Israeli troops boarded the vessel. A tenth activist died of his wounds in 2014, after having been hospitalized for four years in a coma.

The incident sparked widespread condemnation and 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 group Hamas.

Footage taken from the 'Mavi Marmara' security cameras, showing activists preparing to attack IDF soldiers, May 2010. (Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson / FLASH90)
Footage taken from the ‘Mavi Marmara’ security cameras, showing activists preparing to attack IDF soldiers, May 2010. (Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson / FLASH90)

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 following the raid.

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