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Israel and Turkey Near Détente


Turkey and Israel are finally close to a reconciliation deal. Officials from both sides are meeting in Jerusalem to hammer out the details of Israeli compensation to the families of those killed in the Mavi Marmara clash of 2010, hoping to finally thaw relations between the once friendly and cooperative countries. The Times of Israel reports:

The central issue for the week’s meeting was the sum of the Israeli compensation to the families of the Turkish citizens who were killed after Israeli naval commandos were attacked with clubs and metal bars while attempting to commandeer the Marmara.

According to earlier reports, Israel has offered $100,000 to each family, while the families were asking for $1 million each. During a previous round of talks, in Turkey, a framework was said to have been devised under which payments would be based on the victims’ ages, family circumstances and other factors.

In addition to the reparations, Turkey wants Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza, while Israel wants Turkey to drop its criminal lawsuits against those involved in the Marmara fiasco. The White House, which would be the biggest beneficiary of this détente, is hoping these issues don’t prove obstacles in the coming days.

Even if the two sides agree to a deal (and we hope they do), there are still some hurdles to clear. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s enmity for Israel goes beyond the Marmara incident; his party’s regional ambitions and popularity at home are partly based on support for the Palestinians and opposition to Zionism. Security concerns about Syria and Iran and economic interests regarding Israel’s natural gas are much more likely to bring Turkey and Israel back together than any symbolic settlement over the Mavi Marmara incident.

That said, any reconciliation at this juncture is desirable from Washington’s standpoint. Few things could help the US combat the region’s harrowing conflicts like strategic cooperation between Turkey and Israel.

[Israeli/Turkish flags image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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