Israeli minister due in Turkey as rapprochement warms up
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Israeli minister due in Turkey as rapprochement warms up

Energy Minister Steinitz to attend World Energy Congress in Istanbul; unclear if he will meet with his Turkish counterpart

Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz Yuval Steinitz seen at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, September 27, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz Yuval Steinitz seen at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, September 27, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

ISTANBUL — A senior Israeli government minister is due to visit Turkey this week in the first such trip since the Jewish state and Ankara normalized relations after a six-year crisis over Israel’s deadly storming of a Gaza-bound ship, an official said.

Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz will attend the World Energy Congress in Istanbul on Thursday, an official from the Israeli embassy told AFP.

The official said it was “not certain” yet if the Israeli minister would meet with his Turkish counterpart, Berat Albayrak, on the sidelines of the congress.

Israel and Turkey signed a deal in June to restore ties which hit an all-time low after the 2010 raid by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship that killed 10 Turks as the boarding party met with violent resistance from a mob, some of whom were wielding knives and clubs.

Israel has paid Turkey $20 million in compensation for the incident — an amount which Turkish authorities said has been transferred to the account of the justice ministry.

The Turkish government was due to pass on the money to the victims’ families who lodged cases at Turkish court.

In addition to the compensation, Israel has also made an apology.

The blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip remains in place; Israel has allowed Turkish aid to reach Gaza through Israeli ports under the deal.

Turkey and Israel are now set to restore full diplomatic relations, including the exchange of ambassadors who were pulled out of respective capitals after the crisis.

Ankara has shown interest in energy cooperation with Israel to receive gas from its offshore natural gas fields that are currently in development.

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