Israeli and Turkish officials met on Monday to discuss the terms of Israel’s compensation to victims of the 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara.
“Officials delegated by the two sides will work on the compensation issue. We gave the kickstart for it today,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.
Arinc called the talks “a big success of Turkish foreign policy.”
The negotiations began three days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and apologized for “operational errors” made during the raid on the Marmara, a vessel seeking to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, in which nine Turkish activists were killed by naval commandos who were attacked when they boarded.
The call came in the final minutes of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel last week, having been brokered by the Americans. Erdogan accepted Netanyahu’s apology and the two agreed to return their respective ambassadors and pledged to overcome differences.
In an apparent backtrack, however, the Turkish premier said Sunday that normalized relations with Jerusalem would only happen if Israel implemented its side of an ostensible new bargain with Turkey that he said included Israel lifting its blockade on Gaza — something which Netanyahu did not agree to do in the phone conversation.
On Sunday, President Shimon Peres urged Turkey to restore normalized relations with Israel, citing mutual interest and common history as two of several factors that require the mending of ties between the former allies.
“I can think of a thousand reasons why Turkey and Israel should be friends,” Peres said in a special interview at the President’s Residence with CNN Turk. “I cannot find one reason why they shouldn’t be friends.”
“Both countries wanted to put an end to this misunderstanding and return to the good relations that existed between Turkey and ourselves for many good years,” the president said, adding that he hoped to travel to Ankara and shake hands with the Turkish leader soon.