With detente agreed, Turkey’s deputy PM eyes Israel trip
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With detente agreed, Turkey’s deputy PM eyes Israel trip

Jerusalem welcomes deal, calling for swift implementation of reconciliation’s terms, including mutual return of ambassadors

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek  (screen capture: YouTube)
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek (screen capture: YouTube)

Hours after Turkey’s parliament ratified a reconciliation deal reached with Israel last month, the country’s deputy prime minister indicated Saturday that he intended to travel to the Jewish state in the near future.

“The reconciliation agreement with Israel is good for Turkey and for the entire region,” Mehmet Simsek said, according to the Ynet news website. “I expect to visit Israel during my next round of international visits.”

The Turkish parliament voted to approve the pact early Saturday, just before it closed for a summer recess, ending a six-year rift and paving the way for the restoration of full diplomatic ties.

Israel on Saturday night praised the Turkish move, with the Prime Minister’s Office issuing an official statement expressing hopes for the swift implementation of the agreement.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim delivers a speech during an extraordinary session of the Turkish Parliament in Ankara on July 16, 2016, following a failed coup attempt. (AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN)
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim delivers a speech during an extraordinary session of the Turkish Parliament in Ankara on July 16, 2016, following a failed coup attempt. (AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN)

“Israel welcomes the ratification of the agreement by the Turkish parliament, and anticipates the continued implementation [of the deal], including the [mutual] return of ambassadors,” the statement said.

Relations between the former allies imploded in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid ship trying to breach Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The raid left 10 Turks dead and several IDF soldiers wounded.

Under the terms of the reconciliation agreement, Israel will pay a “lump sum” of $20 million in compensation to the victims within 25 days.

Individual Israeli nationals also would not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident.

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

Israel had already offered compensation and an apology over the raid several years ago, but with the agreement it also eased slightly its part in the blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, transferring humanitarian aid from Ankara through Israel’s border crossings with the Strip.

The Israeli Cabinet has already approved the deal.

The Mavi Marmara is seen off the coast of Israel in May 2010. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
The Mavi Marmara is seen off the coast of Israel in May 2010. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
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