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Turkey seeks reconciliation with Israel

Turkey hopes to improve relations with Israel following a deadly assault on a Gaza-bound aid ship in May. Israel has to date not apologized for the incident, which killed nine Turkish citizens.

Turkish and Israeli flags

Turkey wants to turn the page on a year of difficult relations with Israel

Turkey's foreign minister has said his country wants to improve ties with Israel, but only once the Jewish state apologizes for the deadly assault on a Gaza-bound aid ship in May.

"We have a wish to reconcile with Israel,” Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Saturday, December 25.“ We desire peaceful relations with all countries."

Pro-Palestinian activists hold banners as they approach the Israel embassy in Rome in June

The May raid sparked worldwide protests

The minister criticized the Israeli government for not reciprocating Turkish overtures and its failure to apologize for the May 31 assault which left nine Turks dead.

The countries held talks earlier this month in Geneva and drafted a deal which would have Israel apologize for the raid, compensate the victims' families and see the Turkish ambassador return to Tel Aviv. Israel has yet to approve the deal.

"We want to both preserve relations and defend our rights," Davutoglu said, adding that "nothing can cover up" the killing of Turkish citizens.

"If our friendship with Israel is going to continue, an apology and compensation are the only possible outcome," he said.

Relations were already strained before the raid, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's frequent outbursts against the Jewish state and his defense of the radical Palestinian group Hamas.

The raided Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, is due to return to Istanbul on Sunday, to be welcomed by pro-Islamic groups.

Author: Martin Kuebler (AFP, AP)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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