ISTANBUL- Turkish and Israeli teams made progress towards finalizing an agreement to mend ties between them in talks in London and agreed a deal will be finalized in the next meeting to be convened very soon, the Turkish foreign ministry said on Friday.
The ministry said in a statement its undersecretary, Feridun Sinirliolu, the Israeli prime minister's special envoy, Joseph Ciechanover, and acting chairman of the National Security Council, General Jacob Nagel, met in London on Thursday.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Washington last week that he expected the talks to yield positive results. During that visit, Erdogan met with a group of leaders of US Jewish organizations.
Turkey was once Israel's closest regional ally but ties collapsed in 2010 after the Mavi Marmara incident, where 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed by Israeli Marines after violently attempting to breach the Gaza blockade. Talks of reconciliation have continued on and off for months, with frequent reports in the Turkish media of an impending breakthrough.
After the Mavi Marmara incident, then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan put three condition on a normalization of ties: an Israeli apology, compensation and a lifting of the blockade of Gaza.
Netanyahu apologized in 2013 and the issue of compensation has apparently been resolved, but the issue of the Gaza blockade remains unresolved.
Israeli officials have said Israel would not lift the blockade, which it sees as of cardinal importance to its security, to please Erdogan.Herb Keinon and Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.