Israeli delegation to meet with Turkish officials

Meeting will revolve around full restoration of diplomatic ties; Kerry to meet Abbas in Turkey Sunday to discuss peace process.

turkish PM Erdogan 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer )
turkish PM Erdogan 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer )
An Israeli delegation will be in Ankara on Monday to discuss the full restoration of diplomatic ties with Turkey, while US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a series of meetings in that country.
Kerry will also meet on Sunday in Turkey with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
While in Israel earlier this month, Kerry had said he would unveil an economic plan for the Palestinians to help inspire them to negotiate with Israel. But he has done so that within the one week timetable he had set.
A senior state department official said Kerry would discuss the economic plan with Abbas. It is unclear whether the US official will also be part of the Israeli-Turkish meeting.
The United States helped the two countries take the initial steps to end the diplomatic crisis that began when the IDF killed nine Turkish activists when it boarded the Mavi Marmara as it attempted to break Israel’s naval blocked of Gaza. Since then Turkey’s leaders have issued contradictory statements about the restoration of ties with Israel.
A senior state department official said that Kerry, who arrived in Istanbul on Saturday, would discuss the matter during his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The official added that the US continued to encourage Israel and Turkey to repair their relationship.
Financial compensation by Israel to the families of the Turkish activists will be one of the key issues the two delegations will discuss.
According to the Turkish website Todays Zamen, families of the activists have objected to the talks and have continued to sue Israel for the deaths in an Istanbul court. They are also objecting to compensation talks between Turkey and Israel, saying the Jewish state must first fully lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip. On Saturday, the relatives of the activists said they would not drop lawsuits filed against former Israeli military commanders they hold responsible for the deaths.
An Israeli official said the families’ response did not come as a surprise given that the activists were part of IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which is supportive of Hamas.
Turkey agreed to reconcile with Israel after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized for the Mavi Marmara deaths. Israel has since said that concern over Syria’s civil war as well as its store of chemical weapons there, pushed them to repairs its ties with Turkey, which also borders Syria.
According to Davutoglu said Turkey would not discuss Syria with Israel.
Kerry will be discussing Syria with Davutoglu and 10 other foreign ministers who make up a group called Friends of Syria. This includes foreign ministers from Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Italy, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Kerry is expected to announce a new aid package which would mark a recalibration of US policy toward rebel groups in the Syrian civil war.
The US plans to provide about $100 million in new non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition that for the first time could include battlefield support equipment such as body armor and night-goggles.
The new assistance would still stop short of supplying weapons to insurgents fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad. It is also far less than what is being sought by Syrian opposition leaders, US allies like Britain and France and some US lawmakers.
A Syrian rebel leader said on Saturday only force could end the country’s two-year conflict and ruled out the possibility of any negotiation with Assad’s administration, other than over its exit.
“There is no solution with this regime through negotiation. This [conflict] will not be settled other than by force,” Brig. Selim Idris, head of a military command, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Istanbul.
“Maybe in its final stages, when the regime feels it has lost everything, it might want to negotiate for its exit,” a Syrian rebel leader said on Saturday.
Reuters contributed to this report.