Israel and Turkey sign agreement re-establishing ties

Israel and Turkey signed a reconciliation agreement Tuesday, re-establishing diplomatic ties that had been sundered since 2010.

Dore Gold, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, signed the agreement in Jerusalem. In Ankara, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu did the same, Turkey's state-run news agency Anadolu reported, citing diplomatic sources.

The agreement, announced by both sides on Monday, must now be approved by the Turkish parliament.

Ties were ruptured in 2010 when Israeli naval commandos raided a pro-Palestinian aid flotilla as it headed to the blockaded Gaza Strip. Ten Turkish nationals - one with joint US citizenship - died as a result of the raid on the ship Mavi Marmara.

In response, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and scaled back military and economic cooperation with its key non-Arab partner in the Middle East.

Under the deal secured after months of talks, Israel met Turkey's demand to compensate the families of Turkish casualties by contributing 20 million dollars to a victims' fund.

Ankara, in turn, will drop criminal charges against Israeli soldiers involved in the Mavi Marmara affair.

Turkey's main demand for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted was not fully met in the agreement, but it will be allowed to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, via the Israeli port of Ashdod.

The first aid ship carrying supplies for Gaza is expected to dock in Ashdod on Sunday, a Turkish government source said.

After undergoing a security check, the relief supplies should begin to be distributed in Gaza on Monday or Tuesday - just in time for the festival of Eid.

The ship Lady Leyla will depart Turkey on Friday. Among the cargo on board will be 10,000 food containers, 10,000 toys and 2,000 tons of rice.

The agreement also allows Turkey to invest in infrastructure projects in the strip, including a hospital, power plant and projects to tackle Gaza's water crisis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has focused on the economic aspects of the deal, especially lucrative contracts to supply Turkey with natural gas.

Nine members of Israel's security cabinet are expected to approve the agreement on Wednesday, although three right-wing ministers have said they will vote against it.

"[C]ompensation to the perpetrators of terrorism is a dangerous precedent that the state of Israel will regret in the future," Education Minister Naftali Bennett said.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 15:01

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