Israeli diplomatic officials disputed assertions in the Turkish media Monday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was delaying approval of a compensation agreement with Turkey that would bring to an end the Mavi Marmara saga.
The Hurriyet Daily News quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the agreement was finalized and submitted to Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and that Netanyahu has been “avoiding ratifying the deal for at least two months.”
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to respond to the report, just as it consistently refuses to comment on anything having to do with relations with Turkey.
Without explaining the connection, the paper attributed Netanyahu’s alleged hesitance to sign off on the deal to “domestic political concerns, as he has already been under pressure due to the peace process with Palestinians, which was recently suspended after Fatah and Hamas signed a unity deal.”
Israeli sources questioned the veracity of the report, saying that the ball was in Turkey’s court and that while all that was needed on the Israeli side for the compensation deal to go through would be government approval in Ankara there would be a need for new legislation, since the deal would include ending current or future legal proceedings against IDF commanders and officers.
Just before last month’s municipal elections in Turkey, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc was quoted as saying a compensation deal would be signed just after the elections, and diplomatic relations would be fully restored.
Another report said that there was discussion about a possible Erdogan trip to Israel.
Israeli and Turkish diplomats did meet four times in the last year, working up to an agreement that would conclude the process of normalization of relations. A process that began with Netanyahu’s apology last year for any mistakes that led to the death of nine Turkish activists on the Turkish ship trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.