Jewish Home ministers to vote against Turkey reconciliation
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Jewish Home ministers to vote against Turkey reconciliation

Bennett and Shaked say paying compensation to the families of Turks killed in the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid sets a 'dangerous precedent'

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, left, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett arrive at the first cabinet meeting of the Israel's 34th government at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 15, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, left, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett arrive at the first cabinet meeting of the Israel's 34th government at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 15, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Jewish Home ministers will oppose the landmark rapprochement deal between Israel and Turkey when it comes to a vote on Wednesday, the party said in a statement Tuesday.

Party chair and Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked will vote against the deal in the high-level security cabinet over their opposition to compensation for Turks killed by IDF soldiers in the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid and the absence of an agreement in the deal to return to bodies of soldiers killed in Gaza last year.

Jerusalem and Ankara announced Monday the terms of a deal ending years of diplomatic stalemate between the eastern Mediterranean countries and heralding the normalization of ties. The terms includes $20 million to be paid in compensation by Israel over an IDF raid on a ship attempting to break the Gaza blockade in 2010 that led to the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens.

The opposition of Jewish Home ministers would likely bring the “no” votes to three, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman saying Monday that he would also oppose the deal.

The security cabinet is made up of 10 government ministers and is in charge of forming and implementing foreign and defense policy.

The Jewish Home ministers made their decision after being updated on the details of the deal by the head of the National Security Council, according to the statement.

“Reconciliation with Turkey is important at this time and is in the interest of the State of Israel,” Bennett said. “But at the same time paying compensation to the perpetrators of terrorist acts is a dangerous precedent that the State of Israel will regret in the future. Israel must not pay compensation to terrorists who tried to harm the IDF.”

Once close, already frayed relations between Israel and Turkey were significantly downgraded in 2010 after Israeli commandos staged a raid on a six-ship Turkish flotilla which was trying to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the Strip.

The commandos were violently attacked by those on board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, and nine Turkish citizens, including one with American citizenship, were killed in the ensuing melee. A tenth died of his wounds years later. A number of Israeli soldiers were injured in the raid.

Activists on the 'Mavi Marmara' preparing to attack IDF soldiers (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)
Activists on the ‘Mavi Marmara’ preparing to attack IDF soldiers (IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

Bennett also expressed opposition the deal on the grounds that it did not include a guarantee that Hamas twould return the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza War which it claims to be holding.

“So long as Turkey exercises control over Hamas,” Bennett insisted, “they should do their all they can to ensure that Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin are returned to Israel.”

Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed in separate incidents during Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in the summer of 2014. Though neither body was recovered, the army has classified both soldiers as “killed in action” based on forensic evidence.

Netanyahu said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had personally sent a letter pledging to do all he could on the matter.

Reacting to Netanyahu’s announcement of the deal, Goldin’s family said in a statement that it “abandons Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul and doesn’t include the return of their bodies from Hamas captivity.”

Avigdor Liberman speaks on the phone during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 26, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Avigdor Liberman speaks on the phone during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on June 26, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Liberman — a long-time critic of Turkey who in January 2015 called its president the “anti-Semitic neighborhood bully” — told his Yisrael Beytenu party Monday that despite his opposition, he would not actively work against the deal.

“We won’t make a campaign out of it just as I didn’t in my opposition to the Shalit deal [the exchange of 1,027 Palestinian terrorists for the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit] at the time, but my position is known,” he said.

“I don’t see any reason to retract my opposition, unless there are changes that I am unaware of,” Liberman said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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