Israeli, Turkish officials ink reconciliation deal
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Israeli, Turkish officials ink reconciliation deal

Foreign Ministry chief signs in Jerusalem, Turkey’s undersecretary signs in Ankara; accord faces opposition at security cabinet on Wednesday

Director-General of the Foreign Ministry Dore Gold arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting in the Prime Minister's Office, Jerusalem, June 26, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Director-General of the Foreign Ministry Dore Gold arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting in the Prime Minister's Office, Jerusalem, June 26, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

In almost simultaneous announcements, Israel and Turkey’s foreign ministries on Tuesday announced that a deal for reconciliation had been signed separately by each country.

In Jerusalem, Dore Gold, director-general of the Foreign Ministry, signed for Israel, instead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the Foreign Ministry portfolio.

Deputy Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu, formerly Turkey’s envoy to Israel, signed on Turkey’s behalf in Ankara.

“Relations with Israel will return to their previous state after six years,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry declared.

The signings came a day after Jerusalem and Ankara announced the terms of a deal ending years of diplomatic stalemate between the former allies, heralding the normalization of ties.

Among the terms of the deal is Israel’s payment of $20 million in compensation to Turkey for an IDF raid on a ship attempting to break the Gaza blockade in 2010 in which 10 Turkish citizens were killed.

The Israeli 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.

Jewish Home ministers will oppose the landmark rapprochement deal when it comes to a vote ratifying vote on Wednesday, the party said in a statement.

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 compensating Turkey.

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.

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)

For the Jewish Home ministers, the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers held by Hamas is a key demand they want included in the deal.

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)

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 to see the return of the IDF soldiers bodies.

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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