Israel, Turkey to announce detente next week — report
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Israel, Turkey to announce detente next week — report

Ministers to vote on deal ahead of July signing; Gaza blockade reportedly to remain in place, as will Turkish-Hamas ties

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israel's Consul-General in Istanbul Shai Cohen (left) meets with Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Dore Gold and Bureau Chief Gilad Cohen on March 21, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. (MFA)
Israel's Consul-General in Istanbul Shai Cohen (left) meets with Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Dore Gold and Bureau Chief Gilad Cohen on March 21, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. (MFA)

Israeli and Turkish officials will announce a reconciliation deal at the beginning of next week, with the security cabinet set to convene days later to approve the agreement, Israeli reports said Thursday.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, a fierce critic of Turkey, won’t oppose the deal as he has done in the past, Channel 2 reported.

Multiple reports in recent weeks have said that, after years of bitter animosity, the two sides have been inching ever closer to an agreement.

Ties reached their nadir in 2010 after IDF commandos raided a Turkish vessel that was trying to run the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza, were attacked by passengers, and killed nine Turkish civilians in the ensuing melee. A tenth died later.

The upcoming Sunday meeting between Israeli and Turkish officials, to be held somewhere in Europe, will aim to wrap up a few remaining details ahead of the cabinet vote on Wednesday, Haaretz reported.

The Turkish delegation will be led by Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Feridun Sinirlioğlu, who has headed negotiations with Israel since they began. On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy Joseph Ciechanover will lead the team that is to include the acting head of the National Security Council, Brigadier General (res) Yaakov Nagel.

The two sides are expected to review a draft accord and verify that they are agreed on all its clauses.

Senior Israeli officials told Haaretz the final deal will only be signed in July. Sinirlioğlu will sign for Turkey while Foreign Ministry Director Dori Gold will sign for Israel.

The delay in inking the reconciliation is to allow both sides to complete steps needed to implement the agreement.

Channel 2 reported Thursday that under the deal the blockade on the Gaza Strip will continue, but Turkey will be allowed to send equipment and goods via the Israeli port of Ashdod and from there to Gaza. In addition, Turkey is to build a power station, a desalination plant, and a hospital in the Strip.

Senior officials said the details of the deal have been coordinated with Egypt, the report said.

Footage taken from Mavi Marmara security cameras, showing the activists onboard as they prepare to attack incoming IDF soldiers on May 31, 2010 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)
Footage from the Mavi Marmara security cameras shows the activists on board as they prepare to attack incoming IDF soldiers on May 31, 2010. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

Two of Turkey’s key conditions for normalization — an apology and compensation for the raid on the Gaza-bound Turkish vessel — were largely met in the years since, leaving its third demand, that Israel lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, as the main obstacle. Israel says the blockade is designed to prevent Hamas, the Islamist terror group that still runs Gaza, from importing weaponry.

Ankara on Wednesday said Turkey would maintain its relationship with Hamas, denying reports that severing ties with the group was ever part of the agreement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu said during an Ankara press conference that communication between Ankara and Hamas was essential to reaching regional peace.

Agencies and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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