Erdogan Claims Marmara Compensation Sealed
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday that Israel and Turkey have reached an agreement regarding compensation over the 2010 Mavi Marmara Flotilla.
Nine Turkish Islamists were killed on the flotilla after violently attacking IDF soldiers, during an attempt to break Israel's naval blockade on the terrorist group Hamas-enclave Gaza. The incident triggered a severe diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
Speaking to American journalist Charlie Rose of PBS, Erdogan claimed an agreement of Israeli payments to the families of the violent Turkish Islamists had been reached, and further thanked US President Barack Obama for negotiating between the two countries.
"We have come to an agreement... with respect to compensation," Erdogan said through a translator.
The Turkish prime minister went on, saying "with respect to sending humanitarian aid to the people in Palestine through Turkey... is the other step of the negotiations, and with the completion of that phase we can move towards a process of normalization (of relations)."
"I spoke to my colleagues at the foreign ministry and I think we're talking about days, weeks; I hope another black cat doesn't pass in front of us."
According to Erdogan, if a compensation is reached, the first step of the agreement would be to send ambassadors back to their posts in Ankara and Tel Aviv.
Israeli officials denied Erdogan's claims, however, saying that an agreement has yet to be reached.
Erdogan is facing quite a bit of criticism in Turkey after leaked recordings on internet social media sites raised suspicions of corruption among his inner circle, a revelation Erdogan responded to by blocking the sites Twitter and YouTube.
A recent Turkish law, which raised fears of the country turning into a police state, gave the country's intelligence agency unprecedented new levels of authority, and made leaking classified documents an offense punishable by a jail term.
The Marmara - a recap
The Mavi Marmara, which claimed to international media to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza," was the largest ship in the flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's Gaza blockade on May 31, 2010.
The ship defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel - only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board.
The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine of the activists on board.
After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid - in fact, no aid supplies at all - whatsoever.
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.
It was under pressure from Obama that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized last March to Erdogan for the deaths of the activists on the Marmara.
Israel was reportedly willing to pay $20 million to the families of nine Turks killed on the Mavi Marmara in order to end the long-standing conflict, but Erdogan last week suddenly demanded that Israel present a “written protocol” in which it promises to lift the “siege” on Gaza.
That demand was rejected by Netanyahu, as senior officials from his office declared that lifting the blockade, which was deemed legal by the UN in 2010, and providing a written statement to that effect are "not on the agenda."