Israeli-Turkish deal backed by Ankara parliament

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Turkey’s post-coup parliament has ratified a deal with Israel to normalize ties. Israel will pay compensation for a 2010 raid on a Turkish aid flotilla bound for Gaza that resulted in 10 Turkish nationals being killed.

Turkish state-run media said Saturday that parliament’s agreement to restore relations with Israel would exclude Israeli individuals from liability and allow Turkey to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

The two countries would also appoint ambassadors to mend six years of strife, the Anadolu news agency said.

Within 25 days, Israeli would pay a “lump sum” of $20 million (17.7 million euros) to Turkey as compensation for those killed, according to Anadolu.

In 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised for the naval raid to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (shown in the Turkish depiction above) in a breakthrough arranged by US President Barack Obama.

The rapprochement follows secret talks since December 2014 held in Geneva and London.

Infrastructure projects in Gaza

The deal, inked in late June by the Turkish and Israeli governments, also allows Turkey to invest in infrastructure projects in the Gaza Strip, including a hospital, power plant and desalinization projects to tackle Gaza’s water crisis.

Ankara did not initially forward the deal to Turkey’s parliament, ostensibly because of time pressure after the 15 July attempted putsch by a rogue military faction.

Ties between the two countries were severely damaged when Israeli naval commandos raided the pro-Palestinian six-ship aid flotilla as it tried to breach a naval blockade on Gaza, which Israel had imposed after Palestinian militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

Nine activists aboard the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara ferry were killed outright. A 10th person later died from wounds inflicted.

Multiple benefits, says Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promoted benefits of restoring ties, with talk of building a pipeline to Turkey to export Israeli gas, and the need to find allies in the turbulent Middle East.

Türkei Ismail Haniyeh und Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara

He had faced pressure from within Israel to include within the deal the handing over by the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas of four missing Israelis, including the remains of two soldiers presumed dead.

Erdogan, who heads Turkey’s ruling Islam-rooted AKP party, has long been a supporter of Hamas, which seized rule in Gaza in 2007.

Shortly after last month’s attempted Turkish coup, Netanyahu said, “Israel respects the democratic process in Turkey and looks forward to the continuation of the reconciliation process.”

Hamas congratulated Erdogan on quashing the attempted coup.

Turkish aid for Gazans

Turkish aid began to arrive in Gaza on 4 July, comprising 10 initial truckloads of food parcels, toys and children’s clothing, in time for the end of Ramadan fasting.

The supplies were first shipped to Israel’s southern port of Ashdod, where they were unloaded and sent on to Gaza.

Since 2008, there have been three wars between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including a devastating 50-day conflict in 2014.

ipj/xtj(AFP, AP, dpa)

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