Turkish President Erdogan ratifies reconciliation deal with Israel

By September 02 2016, 14:14 Latest News No Comments

cooper erdoganOn Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed legislation necessary to bring into effect the country’s reconciliation agreement with Israel.

The deal had already been approved by Turkey’s parliament and Israel’s Security Cabinet in June this year, but the attempted Turkish military coup the following month delayed the ratification of the agreement.

The deal follows years of talks after the cessation of relations between the once close regional allies in 2010, when Israeli commandos intercepted the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara, the largest ship in a flotilla dispatched to Gaza by the Turkish Islamist-linked relief agency Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

The commandos were violently attacked by those on board, with several soldiers seriously injured. Nine Turkish citizens were killed when the commandos opened fire in what Israel said was self-defence, and one more died last year from injuries sustained in the incident.

Under the agreement, the deal will involve full restoration of diplomatic ties and return of ambassadors after a five-year freeze. Turkey will deliver humanitarian aid and non-military supplies to Gaza while making infrastructure investments, according to a senior Turkish official. Turkey’s first aid ship to Gaza arrived in July in accordance with the reconciliation agreement, carrying 10,000 tonnes of goods including food, medication and toys, and further plans include the building of a 200-bed hospital.

In addition, Turkey has agreed to end all claims against Israeli military personnel and the State of Israel as a result of the Israeli raid, Israeli officials said. Under the agreement, however, Hamas offices may continue to operate in Turkey for the purpose of diplomatic activity and its leader Khaled Mashal will remain there.

Hamas is a terrorist organisation and it was in Turkey that senior Hamas operatives masterminded the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers that triggered the 2014 Operation Protective Edge conflict in Gaza. Turkey’s ruling Islamist AKP government has been accused of harbouring Hamas terrorists by allowing them to mastermind attacks from the group’s Istanbul headquarters.

Further signs of diplomatic normalisation between the two countries were seen the day before the Turkish President’s ratification of the agreement. Erdogan publically greeted and shook hands with Shani Cooper – the Political Counsellor at the Israeli Embassy in Ankara – at an official reception marking victory day; a celebration of Turkish national independence.

Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office said it welcomed the ratification of the agreement by the Turkish Parliament and that it was looking forward to its continued implementation.

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