Israel sends $20 million to Turkey for families of Mavi Marmara victims
Funds are part of a reconciliation deal signed 3 months ago to restore ties with Ankara following a six-year rift
Israel has paid Turkey $20 million in compensation for the deadly storming of an aid ship in 2010, a key pillar of a deal signed in June to restore ties after a six-year rift.
The money has been transferred to the account of the Turkish justice ministry, a Turkish foreign ministry official told AFP on Friday, asking not to be named.
Relations between the former allies deteriorated with the rise of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP to power, then broke off almost completely in 2010 following an Israeli naval raid on a Turkish flotilla trying to breach Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The raid, in which IDF commandos were attacked by activists on board, left 10 Turks dead and several soldiers wounded.
The compensation to the victims’ families was one of the three key demands by Turkey for the reconciliation deal with Israel, along with an apology and an easing of the blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. An apology by Israel was issued three years ago.
While the blockade remains in place amid Israeli concerns that Hamas would import weapons and other materiel, Ankara has been able to resume delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians through Israeli ports under the deal.
The Turkish government is due to pass on the compensation money to the families of the victims in due course.
Turkey and Israel also agreed that individual Israeli nationals would not be held criminally or financially liable for the Mavi Marmara incident.
And a final key element is the exchange of ambassadors, who were pulled out of Ankara and Tel Aviv in the wake of the crisis even though diplomatic ties were never fully severed.
The official said that a Turkish ambassador to Israel will be appointed “soon.”
Ankara did not issue an official statement in response to the death of former Israeli president and premier Shimon Peres, who was laid to rest Friday, but outgoing Turkish Foreign Ministry number two Feridun Sinirlioglu attended his funeral.
The agreement had been urged by the United States, which is keen to see its NATO ally, overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey, resume its previously tight relationship with Israel.