Erdogan: No Written Protocol? No Normalization
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday quashed reports that the ties between his country and Israel could be normalized within days.
Speaking at a press conference alongside Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Erdogan presented a new demand to Israel: that it present a “written protocol” in which it promises to lift the “siege” on Gaza.
"It is impossible that the relations between Israel and Turkey will return to what they were without a written protocol," he said, according to Channel 2 News.
Erdogan further demanded that the written statement should also include a commitment by Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza.
“The talks on the Mavi Marmara affair have not ended, we are not there yet,” he added.
The comments come two days after Erdogan’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said that his country and Israel are the closest they have been to a normalization of bilateral relations since the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.
“There has recently been a momentum and new approach in compensation talks. We could say that most of the differences have been removed recently in these discussions,” he said in a televised interview.
On Monday, it was reported that the Israeli government had decided that it would pay $20 million to the families of nine Turks killed on the Mavi Maramara.
In return for the compensation, Turkey will agree to drop charges in its own courts against the IDF soldiers who participated in the raid on the Marmara.
The Marmara incident occurred when Israeli commandos staged a raid on a six-ship flotilla seeking to violate Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.
One of the ships in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, refused Israeli orders to dock at the Ashdod Port. The commandos then boarded it, encountering violence from the members of the IHH organization who were on board and who attacked them with clubs and knives. The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, killing nine who were on board.
When Israel refused Turkey’s demands to apologize for raiding the Marmara, Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and expelled the Israeli ambassador in Ankara.
Under pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized last March to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the deaths of nine Turks in the 2010 flotilla.
In the months that have passed since the Israeli apology, Erdogan has never let up on his verbal attacks of Israel. In one incident, he accused the Jewish state of being behind the military-backed ouster of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.