Turkey sees no normalization of Israel ties without end to Gaza blockade

Israel allows commercial goods into Gaza through its land crossings and said that nearly 128,000 tons of material, or 3,750 truckloads, entered Gaza last week.

By REUTERS,
December 28, 2015 22:05
1 minute read.
Antalya, Turkey

Supporters of the ruling AK Party wave Turkish national and party flags at an election rally for Turkey's June 7 parliamentary election, in Antalya, Turkey, June 6, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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ANKARA - Turkey sees no normalization in ties with Israel unless its conditions for ending the Gaza blockade and compensation for the deaths of 10 Turkish activists in 2010 are met, a presidential spokesman said on Monday.

Relations between Turkey and Israel soured when the activists were killed in a raid by Israeli commandos on a Turkish boat, the Mavi Marmara, which was trying to breach the Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

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Expectations of a breakthrough were intensified after senior officials met this month to try to repair ties. The talks have raised hopes of progress in negotiations to import Israeli natural gas, particularly since Turkey's relationship with major energy producer Russia has worsened over Syria.

But comments from Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin suggest Turkey may be trying to play tough in the negotiations.

"Turkey - Israel relations will not normalize until Israel realizes the three conditions. We have not given up on these," Kalin said at a regular news conference.

Ankara wants an apology for the Mavi Marmara killings, and compensation for families. It also wants Israel to end the naval and air blockade in Gaza and fully open the two border crossings it operates into the strip. This issue is seen as a sticking point in the talks.

Israel has significantly eased its restrictions on the movement of goods and people into Gaza at both the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings. But it has not intention of halting its naval and air blockade of the strip. Israel considers this an essential security measure particularly given that Hamas continues to control the area.

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"Turkey will continue to play its role until a two-state solution is reached, and the Palestinian people have their own state. There cannot be permanent peace in the region until the Palestinian problem is solved," Kalin told reporters in Ankara.

An Israeli official said in response, “there is a possible framework for improving relations” between the two countries. “The question is, does the Turkish leadership want to utilize that framework,” an Israeli official said.

Israel allows commercial goods into Gaza through its land crossings and said that nearly 128,000 tons of material, or 3,750 truckloads, entered Gaza last week.

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