Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, responding to reports of an imminent Israeli-Turkish compensation agreement for the nine Turks killed on the Mavi Marmara in 2010, was quoted Tuesday as saying that while progress has been made, there still is no agreement.
His comments came even as a Channel 10 reported that a Turkish delegation arrived Sunday for talks.
The Turkish daily Today’s Zaman quoted Arinc as saying “there is progress, but we have not reached an agreement to be signed yet.”
Arinc would not disclose any specific figures being discussed.
Haaretz reported earlier this week that Israel had offered to pay some $20 million in compensation, an increase of $5m. from what it offered earlier. The Turks, according to the report, had previously demanded $30m. Arinc said that there were international precedents that set a baseline for the payments.
Once there is an agreement on compensation, the two countries will work to normalize their relationship, exchange ambassadors and lift the Gaza blockade, Arinc said according to the report.
Israel has made clear in the past, however, that it has no intention of relieving the blockade on Gaza as a condition to normalization of ties.
The Turkish deputy prime minister said that after an agreement is signed, it will be sent to the Turkish parliament for ratification.
Officials in the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office remained, meanwhile, very tight lipped about the negotiations, refraining totally from commenting in a sign reflecting the sensitivity of the matter.
Talks on the compensation have taken place on-and-off since last spring, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on March 22 and offered an apology for any operational errors that might have led to the death of the nine Turks on the boat that tried to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.
The phone call came at the urging of US President Barack Obama, who was visiting at the time, and took place from Ben-Gurion Airport just before Obama left the country.