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Ankara: Israel-Turkey détente stalled over Gaza aid talks

Spokesman for President Erdogan says sides not at agreement yet, after foreign ministry indicates rapprochement deal on the way

IDF naval forces stopping Gaza-bound flotilla aid ships from Turkey in 2010. (photo credit: Moti Milrod/Pool/Flash90)
IDF naval forces stopping Gaza-bound flotilla aid ships from Turkey in 2010. (photo credit: Moti Milrod/Pool/Flash90)

Normalization of ties between Israel and Turkey hinges on reaching an agreement over humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, a senior official in Ankara said Monday.

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said intense talks between the countries had yet to yield a deal to put an end to years of chilly ties.

“The negotiations are continuing (but) we are not at the stage where we can say an agreement has been drafted and sealed.”

Speaking in Ankara, he said there will be a “few more meetings” in the coming weeks to iron out key issues.

His remarks contrast with a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement last week which suggested an agreement would be finalized “very soon,” following a meeting between representatives from both countries in London.

Kalin said Turkey insists on the “re-establishment of conditions for humanitarian aid to Gaza” and supports an independent state of Palestine “whose capital is East Jerusalem.”

Talks have also reportedly gotten hung up over Israeli demands for a commitment from Turkey to end tacit support for the Hamas terror group, which is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip.

NATO member Turkey was a key regional ally of Israel until the two countries fell out over Israel’s policy on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the deaths of Turkish nationals in an IDF raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla of ships in 2010.

After several years of acrimonious accusations, two sides met in December in secret talks to seek a rapprochement, with another round of high-level talks taking place in February in Geneva.

A bombing last month in Istanbul that left three Israelis dead also led to cooperation between the countries and high-level contacts between leaders in Ankara and Jerusalem for the first time in years.

On Sunday, the annual meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) kicked off in Istanbul, where the with the 57-member body discussed the Palestinian cause, conflicts in member states and combating terrorism.

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