Attempts to end a four-year dispute between Israel and Turkey appear to be dead. A reconciliation agreement between the two countries appeared to be close until Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan added another demand that Israel lift a blockade on Gaza as a condition for any agreement. Israeli officials said that was out of the question and the negotiations ground to a halt.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday at a press conference in Istanbul that there can be no reconciliation with Jerusalem “as long as the siege on Gaza is not lifted.” “The siege must be lifted and that must be part of the protocol, signed and agreed upon,” Erdogan stated.
Israel maintains that the blockade is a fundamental national security issue. Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the takeover of the area by the Hamas terror group, southern Israel has been continuously bombarded with rockets and missiles.
Turkey and Israel have been in dispute since Israeli naval commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, a ship that was trying to break the blockade. Nine Turkish citizens were killed when fighting broke out. Israel charges that those killed were agents provocateur on board to foment violence. Turkey claims they were civilian peace activists.
The moves toward reconciliation began last March when U.S. President Barack Obama strong-armed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call Mr. Erdogan and apologize. Mr. Netanyahu made the call, including the apology. Mr. Netanyahu was sharply criticized by hardliners in Israel who said the Israeli commandos were met with violence and responded with force only when they were attacked. They claimed that Israel had no reason to apologize.
Despite that, in the past year, there have been negotiations over the amount of Israeli compensation to be paid. The two sides have come close to an agreement of approximately $20-million.
Erdogan calls “Zionism” and “Islamophobia” crimes against humanity: