Turkey, Israel to discuss reconciliation deal: Report


Ankara: Negotiators from Turkey and Israel are reportedly scheduled to meet on Thursday in Europe in a bid to strike a likely reconciliation agreement as relations between the two sides are warming.

The negotiating teams will discuss ways to narrow the remaining differences on issues such halting the operations of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas at their Istanbul headquarters as well as removing the Israeli embargo on the besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

The meeting will come after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed readiness to normalize his country’s relations with Tel Aviv after six years of strained relations.

A senior Israeli official has ruled out that Ankara will be granted a special status. However, he expressed optimism about the results of the upcoming talks.

“There’s a will to get it over with,” he said. “We haven’t seen such positive comments from Turkey in the last six years. We hope to find a formula that will enable an agreement.”

The report further said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’ envoy, Joseph Ciechanover, and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu have in recent weeks exchanged several drafts on the provisions of the reconciliation deal that are not agreed upon yet.

In January, Erdogan said Turkey needed Israel in the region as the two sides indicated their enthusiasm to normalize relations.

Turkey and Israel also see eye to eye on the Syria conflict and the need to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Ankara is suspected of actively training and arming Takfiri militants operating inside Syria and buying smuggled oil from them. Israel has set up hospitals near the border with Syria to treat militants injured in the fight with Syrian troops.

On March 23, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made a phone call to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to thank him for sending a condolence letter over the death of three Israelis during a recent bombing in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Erdogan, for his part, expressed his interest in increasing mutual cooperation.

On March 24, the Turkish TV channel Kanal7 quoted Netanyahu as saying that Tel Aviv wanted to normalize relations with Ankara. He said Israel has always maintained a policy of rapprochement with Turkey.

Israel and Turkey were traditionally close allies but relations began to decline after Erdogan became prime minister in 2003.

In September 2010, Turkey suspended its military ties with Israel and expelled the Israeli envoy from Ankara over Tel Aviv’s refusal to apologize for its killing of 10 Turkish nationals aboard an aid vessel bound for Gaza.

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