Turkey Deputy PM sees full normalization with Israel

Deputy PM Bulent Arinc tells "Ma'ariv" that Turkey sees relations with Israel returning to how they were before 2010 flotilla incident.

BULENT ARINC 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkey wants to fully restore normal diplomatic relations with Israel, its deputy prime minister, Bulent Arinc, told the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv on Tuesday.
“Turkey is talking about full normalization and the restoration of relations between the two nations to what it was before [2010],” he said.
His interview with the paper comes in advance of an April 22 meeting in Ankara between Israeli and Turkish officials on resolving the issues between the two states.
“I expect these talks will succeed,” said Arinc, who plans to head the Turkish delegation to the joint meeting.
Israel’s apology to Turkey and its acquiescence to Ankara’s demands for compensation ended the crisis between the two countries, he said.
Ankara broke diplomatic ties with Jerusalem in 2010 after the IDF killed nine Turkish activists after it forcibly boarded the Mavi Marmara ship that was sailing to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s naval blockade.
Last month, at the tail end of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with an apology.
Israel then announced that full diplomatic relations would be restored, including the exchange of ambassadors.
Both countries border Syria, and the push to restore relations comes as they find themselves at risk from the nearby civil war.
But the Turkish media has published reports, including comments by Erdogan, that have cast doubt on Turkey’s intent.
In his interview with Ma’ariv, Arinc sought to assure Israelis that Turkey wanted to solve the crisis with Israel, which, he noted, had not harmed the personal ties between Turkish citizens and the Jewish people.
Arinc said he was encouraged by the renewed push by US President Barack Obama to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He explained, however, that Turkey continues to support the Palestinians and their right to self-determination.
Turkey wants to be involved in helping broker a peace deal, and Erdogan plans to head to Gaza at the end of May, after meeting with Obama in Washington.
According to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas plans to visit Istanbul on Saturday, where he will discuss the possibility of visiting Gaza with Abbas.