Netanyahu and Erdogan.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The security cabinet on Wednesday approved the reconciliation deal with Turkey, with seven ministers voting in favor of the agreement and three voting against.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) voted against the deal.
The deal is next scheduled to go before the Turkish parliament, where it is expected to easily pass.
With the passage of the deal, the two countries, who are ending a six-year diplomatic crisis, are expected to begin the process of exchanging ambassadors in the coming weeks.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud), and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) had been undecided prior to the vote, but in the end approved the agreement.
Kahlon said Tuesday that he was bitter there had not been serious discussions in the security cabinet on Turkey until now, and angry at Netanyahu for reaching a deal before convening the committee.
Opposition to the deal centered on two matters: substance and procedure. On a substantive level, the deal has been criticized largely on grounds that Israel should not be paying $20 million compensation to the families of victims on the Mavi Marmara
, who violently attacked IDF soldiers after they boarded the ship to keep it from breaking the Gaza blockade.
On the procedural level, as echoed by Kahlon, the opposition is bothered that the cabinet was not kept appraised of the deal, and is being asked essentially to be a rubber stamp to a deal that Netanyahu negotiated through his interlocutors.
Erdan explained his decision to vote in favor of the agreement, saying that he had weighed the positive and negative aspects of the deal.
"After a lot of thought, I decided to vote in favor of reconciliation with Turkey," Erdan said. He said that he had become convinced that there was not a scenario by which Turkey would be able to influence Hamas to return the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
He said that the agreement had important security and economic benefits. It also takes into account the importance of the naval blockade of Gaza and includes a Turkish obligation to send supplies to the Strip only through transports that are under Israeli control.
"When it will not be quiet, there will not be anything delivered to Gaza," said Erdan.
He acknowledged that paying money to the families of terrorists who had attacked IDF soldiers was infuriating, but said no reconciliation deal would be perfect.
"Nothing justifies paying terrorist that attack our soldiers, but the agreement will give Israel economic benefits," Erdan stated.
On the issue of who will serve as ambassador to Turkey, It is not clear whether Netanyahu will select his own candidate – a political appointment similar to the ambassadors in Washington and at the UN – to fill the Ankara position, or whether it will be filled from within the ranks of the Foreign Ministry.
Although this post has never been filled by a political appointment in the past, its heightened sensitivity may lead Netanyahu to want to select someone on his own for the position.