Turkey ratifies reconciliation deal with Israel

Following lengthy delays, Turkish parliament finally votes to approve agreement normalizing relations with Israel.

AFP,

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The Turkish parliament has approved a deal to normalize ties with Israel after a delay caused by last month's attempted coup, state-run media reported Saturday.

Lawmakers ratified late Friday the agreement to restore relations between the two former close regional allies after a six-year rift, before parliament was due to go into summer recess.

Under the deal, Israel will pay Turkey $20 million in compensation for the deaths of 10 pro-Hamas Turkish assailants who attacked Israeli soldiers during a raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship in 2010, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Israel will hand Turkey a "lump sum" within 25 working days of the agreement coming into force, the agency said, which families of the victims will receive in due course.

Under the terms of the deal, both sides agreed individual Israeli citizens or those acting on behalf of the Israeli government would not be held liable -- either criminally or financially -- for the raid, Anadolu said.

Israeli cabinet ministers approved the deal with Turkey in late June but Ankara did not send it to parliament because of time pressure following the July 15 attempted putsch by a rogue military faction.

Israel was quick to give its support to the Turkish government in the aftermath of the coup bid, condemning it while repeating its faith in the reconciliation process between the two countries.

Now the deal has been approved, the two countries are expected to begin the process of exchanging ambassadors to fully restore diplomatic ties.

In a statement, the Israeli government welcomed the Turkish parliament's approval of the deal and said it looked forward "to the next steps of its implementation, including the return of our respective ambassadors."

The agreement also involves an easing of the security blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip allowing Turkey to deliver aid to Arabs there via Israel's Ashdod port.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has previously spoken about the economic advantages of improved relations, discussing the possibility of a pipeline to Turkey to export Israeli gas.

The rapprochement between the two countries came after secret talks held in December 2014 with two more rounds in February 2015 in Geneva and April this year in London.

Turkey appears to be willing to return to its previous "zero problems with neighbors" foreign policy after the country also normalized relations with Russia. Relations were damaged after Turkey shot down a Russian jet in November last year.

Earlier this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his first trip abroad since the coup bid, meeting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the first time since 2015.




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