On 26 June leaders of Turkey and Israel reached a deal to restore relations six years after a raid by the Israel Navy killing Turkish activists who were trying to sail the Gaza strip blockade. A senior Turkish official said: We reached an agreement with Israel to normalize bilateral relations in Rome." He also described the deal as a “diplomatic victory”.
One of the Turkish conditions was for Israel to apologise, which has already been met. Israel is paying 20 million USD as compensation for the families of the killed Turks, which was the second condition. Turkey also wanted Israel to lift the Gaza blockade, but waived this condition as this was a matter of disagreement. A senior Israeli official said: “They wanted us to lift the blockade on Gaza, and we rejected that. But we agreed to assist the population in Gaza.” On the other hand, Turkey will deliver humanitarian aid and set up projects in the Gaza area, including a hospital, a power station and residential buildings. They will also build a desalination plant to address the power and water crisis. Both countries will also return their ambassadors. The deal is supposed to be signed on 28 June by foreign ministry diplomats and is seen as an opportunity to open the door for Mediterranean gas deals.
In June 2006 Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza strip, after Palestinian fighters kidnapped an Israeli soldier. A year later Hamas took control of the enclave. The relations between Turkey and Israel have been strained since May 2010, when an Israeli Navy commando killed nine Turkish pro-Palestine activists who were trying to reach the blockade Gaza strip. After this incident Turkey scaled back economic support and both countries recalled their ambassadors.
According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the deal will have a good influence on the Israeli economy. For Israel this deal opens doors to find potential customer for its offshore gas exports. US secretary of state John Kerry was positive about the deal. He said: "We are obviously pleased in the administration. This is a step we wanted to see happen." However, the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) in Istanbul was critical about the deal. On twitter they posted 12 points why this deal is a bad idea stressing the deal “should be based on the conditions of abolishing the blockade, not the embargo.”
Sources: Reuters, BBC, Jerusalempost, Haaretz, RFE/RL, Aljazeera, Alarabiya,