Although there is no official and immediate comment from Turkey or Israel, but Israeli media reports confirm the meeting including a number of steps planned to normalize relations.
Relations between the two countries broke down in 2010 after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American. After the incident, Turkey became one of the strongest critics of Israeli actions in Gaza. Israel apologized to Turkey for the deaths and agreed to compensate the victims’ families under a U.S.-brokered arrangement in 2013. But efforts to restore ties faltered amid new Israeli action in Gaza.
The Israeli official, who wasn’t authorized to speak to the media about the diplomatic talks, said the sides agreed that Israel would compensate the families of the flotilla victims.
Turkey would waive legal claims against Israel over the raid and that the countries would upgrade diplomatic ties by returning ambassadors, official claimed. A leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas said to be based in Turkey will be banned from operating from the country.
The agreement follows five years of diplomatic contacts that began following the flotilla incident. “The agreement has still not been given a final signature and we still have to work on some details, but the crisis is on the way to being resolved,” the senior Israeli official said.
The official also said talks to lay down a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkey would begin soon.
The reconciliation agreement came just days after Turkey’s President signaled a possible warming of relations with Israel,s saying that such a move “would be good for us, Israel, Palestine and the entire region.” Israeli Foreign Ministry, responding to Erdogan’s remarks, said that “Israel has always strived for stable relations with Turkey and is constantly examining ways to achieve that goal.”
The senior Israeli official noted that the agreement between the two countries includes the following:
- In the framework of the agreement, Israel will pay Turkey $20 million in compensation, which will be transferred to a special fund that will in turn provide grants to the families of the Turkish citizens who were killed or injured in the Israel Navy’s takeover of the Mavi Marmara.
- Turkey and Israel will renew and normalize their relations and return their respective ambassadors to Tel Aviv and Ankara.
- The Turkish parliament will pass a law that will annul all legal claims against Israeli Defense Force officers and soldiers in connection with the flotilla incident and will prevent future claims from being filed.
- Turkey will expel Saleh al-Aruri, a senior member of Hamas’ military wing, who is based in Istanbul and is directing terrorist operatives in the West Bank from there. In addition, Hamas activities in Turkey in general will be limited.
- Once the final agreement between the two countries has been signed, Turkey and Israel will explore cooperating in the natural gas field – with Turkey buying gas from Israel’s offshore oil fields and the laying of a gas pipeline that would run via Turkey and through which Israel would export gas to Europe.
Reporting based on Haaretz, JP, TZ, Reuters, Times of Israel