Turkey: Normalization with Israel only if Gaza blockade lifted

Senior Turkish official appears to rule out imminent rapprochement with Israel, after leveling demands Jerusalem unlikely to accept.

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Ari Soffer,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Reuters

A spokesman for Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have ruled out any chances of a rapprochement with Israel Monday, after weeks of speculation that a deal was within reach.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Ibrahim Kalin said any normalization with Israel would be conditioned on the lifting of the blockade on Gaza - which Israel has imposed to restrict the flow of weapons to Hamas and other terrorist organizations there - as well as providing an apology and compensation to the families of the Islamist extremists killed aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2010.

While Israel has indicated it would be willing to fulfill the latter two conditions, despite the fact that the Islamists in question were shot while attacking IDF soldiers, lifting the blockade on Gaza is not on the cards, making the possibility of a deal now seem as distant as ever.

"Turkey - Israel relations will not normalize until Israel realizes the three conditions. We have not given up on these," Kalin said, according to Reuters.

"Turkey will continue to play its role until a two-state solution is reached, and the Palestinian people have their own state. There cannot be permanent peace in the region until the Palestinian problem is solved," he added.

The latest blow to hopes for a normalization in ties between the two former allies comes after Turkish officials revealed Israeli claims of a break in ties with Hamas were false. Speaking to Haaretz recently, a senior Turkish official said that despite Israeli reports, breaking ties with Hamas was not on the table as part of the deal.

As for the Israeli government's claim that Ankara was willing to expel Hamas terrorist mastermind Salah al-Arouri as part of the deal, Turkish officials revealed that al-Arouri had in fact left the country months ago as part of "internal considerations" by Hamas.