'Turkey-Israel talks to be held at end of July in NY'

Turkish member of UN 'Marmara' probe tells 'Hurriyet' that schedule for next round of talks yet to be set but that they will begin by end of month.

July 9, 2011 13:24
2 minute read.
Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister

Tayyip Erdogan 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Murad Sezer)


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After failing to repair tarnished ties between the two countries, Turkey and Israel will hold another round of negotiations later this month in New York, a Turkish official told Hurriyet newspaper.

Ozdem Sanberk, the Turkish member of the UN panel investigating the IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara ship, told the the Turkish newspaper that talks are expected to be concluded in late July.

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Sanberk told the paper that the schedule of the next round of negotiations has been set yet. “There has been no change in the negotiating team,” he added.

On Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said it was “unthinkable” to normalize ties with Israel unless the Jewish state apologized for the killing of nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara bound for Gaza last year.

Erdogan also said in the text of a speech to parliament seen by Reuters that lifting an Israeli blockade on Gaza and paying compensation to the victims of the raid were also conditions for the normalization of relations.

The Turkish prime minister made the comments as Turkish and Israeli officials were meeting in New York to discuss repairing the damaged ties between the two countries.

On Thursday, senior Israeli government officials said the UN’s Palmer Commission Report on the Mavi Marmara incident will not be released until July 27, enabling Israel and Turkey to continue looking for a formula on the matter that will enable reestablishment of normal relations.

According to the officials, Israeli and Turkish officials were informed by the UN on Thursday that even though the report has been completed, it will not be published for another three weeks.

The report – which is widely believed to uphold the legality of Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, but takes the IDF to task for excessive force – was to have been released on Thursday.

According to officials, the US was involved in delaying the publication of the report so that negotiations between the two sides could continue.

The report was originally scheduled to have been released on May 15, but was postponed at the request of the Turks, apparently concerned about the impact the report – which reportedly holds Turkey responsible to a large degree for the events – would have on the Turkish public before the June 12 elections there.

Both sides wrote an appendix to the original report, responding to specific points in it.

The commission is headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer, and co-chaired by former Colombian president Alvar Uribe.

Israel is represented on the panel by Joseph Ciechanover, and the Turks by Ozden Sanberk.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has directed Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon to continue contacts with the Turks. Ya’alon met earlier this week in New York with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu to hammer out a formula, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

While the Turks are demanding an Israeli apology and compensation to the families of the nine people killed in the incident, Israel has said that while it was willing to pay compensation – as long as it was done in a way that would not enable future legal claims – it would not apologize.

Rather, Jerusalem has said it would be willing to express regret for the loss of life.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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