Israel, Turkey ink reconciliation pact | News | DW | 28.06.2016
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Israel, Turkey ink reconciliation pact

The two countries have signed a formal agreement to re-establish diplomatic ties that were severed in 2010. The six-year rift stemmed from Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Tuesday's signing was muted - no visit, no lunch and involving only second-tier officials - but Israel and Turkey are expected to get to work mending what had been close relations until six years ago.

Dore Gold, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, signed the agreement in Jerusalem; Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu did the same from Ankara a day after the countries' premiers made an announcement.

Relations between Israel and what was once a strong regional ally crumbled after Israeli commandoes stormed anactivist ship in May 2010 that was attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza in defiance of Israel's blockade.

Some 10 Turkish citizens - including one dual US-Turkish citizen - were killed aboard the Mavi Marmara ship, which was in international waters.

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.

But both nations this week signaled they are ready for a fresh start.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said late on Monday the two might appoint ambassadors "in a week or two."

That follows a deal in which Israel, which had already offered its apologies for the deadly raid on the ship, agreed to pay out $20 million (18 million euros) to the bereaved and injured. The deal also requires Turkey to pass legislation indemnifying Israeli soldiers.

Turkey climbs down over Gaza

Mavi Marmara Rückkehr nach Istanbul Archivbild

Thousands greeted the Mavi Marmara on its return

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, and invest in infrastructure projects in the territory, including a hospital, power plant and projects to tackle Gaza's water crisis.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the agreement but repeated calls for the blockade to be lifted.

"The closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts. It is a collective punishment for which there must accountability," Ban said during a visit on Tuesday to a UN-run school and a Qatari-built rehabilitation hospital in the Gaza Strip.

Israel claims the Gaza blockade is needed to curb arms smuggling by Hamas, an Islamist group that last fought a war with Israel in 2014 and has administered the territory since winning elections there in 2006.

jar/tj (Reuters, dpa)

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