‘israel’ is our friend: Turkey Govt. Spokesman
A spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has described the Israeli regime as a “friend” of the government in Ankara just as Tel Aviv presses ahead with its deadly crackdown on Palestinians in the occupied territories.
“There is no doubt that the Israeli state and its people are friends of Turkey,” AKP spokesman Omer Celik said on Sunday, adding that the two sides were working on a draft document to reach final agreement on bilateral ties, which had been soured in the wake of a 2010 Israeli raid on a Turkish aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip.
Israel and Turkey recently reached a preliminary agreement to normalize ties following the 2010 incident, unnamed officials from Tel Aviv and Ankara said last week.
The deal was reached during a secret meeting in Switzerland between Yossi Cohen, the incoming head of Israel’s spy agency, Mossad, the Israeli PM’s point-man for Turkish reconciliation Joseph Ciechanover and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.
Under the deal, Israel should compensate the victims of the raid. Ankara and Tel Aviv would also exchange envoys and hold talks on the restart of gas exports to Turkey.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos attacked the Turkish-flagged MV Mavi Marmara in the Mediterranean Sea, killing nine Turkish citizens and injuring about 50 other people. A 10th died last year after four years in a coma.
Following the raid, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and demanded a formal apology and compensation, as well as an end to the Israeli-imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Israel extended a formal apology to Turkey, and negotiations on compensation began in 2013.
The flotilla was attempting to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza, carrying aid to the Palestinians in the impoverished enclave.
The thaw in Israel-Turkey relations comes at a time when tensions are simmering in the occupied Palestinian territories over the Israeli regime’s imposition of restrictions in August on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Palestinians are angry at increasing violence by Israeli settlers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and their attacks on Palestinian properties, saying the Tel Aviv regime seeks to change the status quo of the compound.
Nearly 130 Palestinians have been killed in the recent escalation of violence since October.