Turkish official: Agreement with Israel is 'close'

Spokesman for Turkey's ruling party says agreement on compensation to families of those who died on Marmara can be signed.

Elad Benari ,

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Talks between Turkey and Israel have progressed and reached the point at which both sides can now sign an agreement on compensation for the 10 Islamists who were killed on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ruling party official said on Monday, according to the Today’s Zaman newspaper.

Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey's ruling AK Party, made the comments in a live interview on Haber Turk television.

"The point has been reached in the talks at which (an agreement) can be signed," he was quoted as having said, but he did not say whether progress has been reached on Turkey’s other major demand in the talks with Israel: lifting the naval blockade on Gaza.

Recent reports indicated that Israel and Turkey had reached "understandings" to normalize ties that were downgraded following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, which occurred when the IHH Islamists on board refused to heed Israeli orders to turn the ship around and dock at the Ashdod Port instead of Gaza.

When the ship insisted on continuing to Gaza, IDF soldiers had no choice but to board it, upon which they were attacked by the Islamists, forcing them to open fire.

Last week, diplomatic sources said the sides were making progress in rapprochement talks, but some issues still need to be resolved.

According to the officials, discussions between the parties in Switzerland last week went well and further progress was recorded. The officials noted, however, that some matters still remain open and will be discussed in a further meeting between the parties that will take place soon.

Even amid the talks Turkey is planning a $5 billion project to reconstruct Gaza, and prime among the plans is a major seaport for the Hamas enclave. The Israeli government has firmly opposed such a seaport, given the blatant danger of it being used to smuggle in weapons.

Turkey likewise continues to give its open support to the Hamas terrorist organization, which calls for the genocide of Jews in its very charter.




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