Six years after 10 activists were killed in a botched Israeli raid of the Turkish aid flotilla Mavi Marmara, the two countries have reached a deal to normalize bilateral ties, Israeli officials said Sunday. Speaking at a press conference ahead of his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the deal would have a “powerful positive influence on the Israeli economy.”
According to senior Israeli and Turkish officials, who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, the deal would allow Turkey to deliver “humanitarian aid and other non-military products” to the war-ravaged Gaza Strip. However, the deal will not end the stringent border controls Israel put in place around the Palestinian enclave in 2007.
"The Turkish-Israeli agreement will make it possible for Turkey to launch major projects in the West Bank including the Jenin industrial zone,” an anonymous Turkish official told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “The agreement represents a diplomatic victory for Turkey, which assumed a principled and determined stance.”
Israel, on its part, will provide $20 million compensation to the families of those killed in the 2010 raid of Mavi Marmara, which was carried out in international waters and led to widespread criticism of Israel. At the time, the United Nations called for “a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place.”
Additionally, the two countries will also rebuild military and intelligence ties, and send ambassadors back to each other’s capitals.
However, the deal does not include any references to Turkey’s ties with Hamas — the Islamist group that currently controls the Gaza Strip. Families of two Israeli soldiers who were killed in the 2014 Gaza war had earlier urged the Israeli government to not sign any reconciliation deal until the issue of Hamas’ activities in Turkey had been addressed.
On Friday, just two days before the deal was finalized, the Doha-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul.
“There are absolutely no references to Hamas in the agreement. Turkey will continue supporting the Palestinian state and the people of Palestine,” the Turkish official told Haaretz.