PM’s office reports progress in Turkey détente talks
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PM’s office reports progress in Turkey détente talks

As Israel’s negotiators return from Geneva, PMO says last few unresolved issues to be raised at upcoming meeting

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at an official ceremony in the Presidential Complex in Ankara, on December 24, 2015. (AFP/Adem Altan)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at an official ceremony in the Presidential Complex in Ankara, on December 24, 2015. (AFP/Adem Altan)

There has been progress in reconciliation talks between Israel and Turkey, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday, as the negotiating team dispatched by Jerusalem returned home from Switzerland.

The two sides met Wednesday in Geneva, as part of ongoing efforts to reach a détente between the once-close allies.

According to the PM’s office, just a few issues remain unresolved, and they will be discussed in the next meeting, which will take place in the near future, Channel 10 TV reported.

According to a high-ranking Israeli official quoted by Haaretz earlier in the week, the last two hurdles are Turkey’s demand that Israel end or ease its military blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip — designed by Israel to prevent Hamas importing weaponry — and Israel’s demand that Turkey put an end to the Hamas presence in its capital.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday that it seemed unlikely an agreement could be reached while Turkey insisted on hosting Palestinian terror group Hamas’s external offices.

After being expelled from Gaza by Israel five years ago, senior Hamas official Salah Arouri set up offices in Ankara, and commenced gathering funds and planning terror attacks, including the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in 2014.

The Israeli team at the talks was led by Joseph Ciechanover, a former head of the Foreign Ministry appointed by Netanyahu. Ciechanover also represented Israel at the UN probe into the IDF raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, which led to the deaths of 10 Turkish nationals and exacerbated a freeze between the two countries. The Turkish team was headed by Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu, Haaretz said.

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

The current talks continue attempts to re-normalize Jerusalem-Ankara relations after Netanyahu, prompted by US President Barack Obama at the end of his visit to the region in 2013, apologized for the flotilla deaths.

“We strive for peace with all our neighbors, but it has to be mutual,” Netanyahu said Tuesday during a tour of the Arava in southern Israel.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who last month signaled his readiness to mend ties with Israel, on Tuesday hosted a delegation of US Jewish leaders at his official Ankara residence, including a Netanyahu confidant who had met with the prime minister in Jerusalem ahead of the Ankara trip.

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