Turkey and Israel reportedly close to deal to warm relations

By bne IntelliNews June 21, 2016

The governments of Turkey and Israel are reportedly close to a deal that will improve their ties which were severed six years ago after Israeli commandos raided a Turkish boat bound for Gaza, killing ten Turkish activists. Ankara and Tel Aviv cut diplomatic relations after the incident.

The two countries have agreed to conclude a deal on June 26, unnamed government sources told the Hurriyet Daily News, while Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the gaps that remained between Israel and Turkey to date only concerned a compromise over Israel's demand to shut down Hamas' Istanbul-based military headquarters.

The rapprochement process was kicked off in December 2015 with secret meetings between delegations from the two countries. Upon Turkey’s demand, Israel apologised for the boat incident in 2013 but Turkey has two more demands: compensation for the victims and lifting of the blockade on Gaza. Hurriyet noted that even though no official announcement has been made to date, the compensation issue has been resolved. As far as the Gaza condition is concerned, Israel will allow Turkey to build a hospital there and will not block supplies of medicine and personnel to the hospital, according to Hurriyet.

If a deal is reached next month, both countries’ reservations regarding each other in international agreements will be lifted, paving the way for joint military exercises and joint energy investments, Hurriyet reported.

Turkey has been seeking to diversify its energy supplies amid tensions with Russia, Turkey’s largest supplier of natural gas. Ankara and Tel Aviv reportedly discussed building a pipeline that will carry Israeli natural gas to Europe via Turkey. Batu Aksoy, the CEO of Turkish energy firm Turcas Petrol, told the Hurriyet Daily News in April that at least 15 energy companies wanted to be part of a planned consortium that will transport gas from Israel. The first Israeli gas may reach Turkey in the next five years, Aksoy said.



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