Israel, Turkey to Begin Marmara Compensation Talks
Turkish and Israeli officials will meet on April 12 for talks over the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, for which the Jewish state apologized last week, the Turkish prime minister said Friday.
"After the apology, we have the compensation (issue) ahead of us. A delegation (from Israel) will travel to Turkey on April 12 for talks on this," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdodan said in an interview with the CNN-Turk television.
Relations between Israel and Turkey soared in 2010, when Israeli naval commandos, seeking to protect Israel’s national security, boarded the Mavi Marmara flotilla, filled with pro-Arab activists seeking to infiltrate Israel’s borders.
The incident, which triggered an international outcry, resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists, including one US citizen.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc had initially said the negotiations for compensation of the victims' families would start next week, in remarks carried by the private NTV broadcaster.
Arinc declined to say how much compensation would be paid out by Israel, adding the exact amount would be clarified after talks with the lawyers of victims' families.
On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey, following a push by President Barack Obama during his visit to the Jewish state.
Erdogan accepted the apology "in the name of the Turkish people" but said relations between the countries would depend on Israel.
Israel now expects Turkey to drop legal proceedings over the case – in particular the high-profile trial in absentia of four Israeli ex-military chiefs by an Istanbul court that opened in November.
Prosecutors are seeking life sentences over the assault for are former military chief of staff Gaby Ashkenazi, former navy chief Eliezer Marom, former military intelligence head Amos Yadlin and former air force intelligence chief Avishai Levy.
"It's out of the question for the government to cancel the trial at the Istanbul court," Ramazan Ariturk, one of the lawyers acting on behalf of the nine Turkish victims, told AFP.
"There is no return from the case which has to be concluded under the existing Turkish laws," he said.
Israel has maintained that those who took part in the raid did nothing wrong, but were rightfully defending Israel’s borders and national security.