Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is scheduled to convene its ambassadorial appointment committee on October 27, with the main agenda item being the appointment of Israel’s next ambassador to Turkey.
At the same time, on the same day, Ankara will simultaneously be engaged in appointing its ambassador to Israel.
The appointment is considered to be one of the most delicate posts in the entire foreign ministry, given the years of negotiation required to reactivate the diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Dr. Dore Gold, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, will chair the appointments committee meeting.
Turkey severed relations with Israel in 2010, following an incident involving an illegal flotilla to Gaza that included at least one Turkish-owned vessel. Ten armed Turkish “activists” died after attacking the Israeli commandos who boarded the ship to redirect it to Ashdod Port.
Turkey demanded compensation payment to the families, an apology from the Israeli government, and insisted that Israel drop its blockade of Gaza. Outraged Turkish authorities filed legal charges against Israeli military authorities and soldiers who were involved in the incident as well.
Years of talks led to a final agreement between the two sides which included a $20 million compensation payment by Israel to Ankara, a statement of regret from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an agreement to allow Turkey to build a hospital in Gaza, and to send humanitarian shipments to the region. In exchange, Turkey agreed to drop all legal charges against military leaders and soldiers in connection with the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident and to reinstate diplomatic ties with Israel.
In line with the terms of the normalization agreement signed with Turkey in June, Israel paid Ankara $20 million on Friday in compensation over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, according to “Turkish diplomatic sources” quoted by the Anadolu news agency.
The two countries finalized and approved the agreement this past August. Under the deal Israel agreed to pay the compensation and Turkey agreed to drop all charges against IDF officials and soldiers with any connection to the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, in which nine Turkish terror activists died after attacking Israeli commandos. The agreement normalizes ties between Israel and Turkey after a six-year hiatus. Israel also agreed to Turkey’s participation in humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza.
According to the report by Anadolu, “Israel has agreed to Turkey’s humanitarian presence in the occupied Gaza Strip.”
Turkey has sent two shipments of humanitarian aid to Gaza thus far. Both arrived at Ashdod port and then were delivered via the land crossing at Kerem Shalom in much the same manner as aid from other international sources.
A new illegal flotilla to Gaza has set sail from the Bosch i Alsina dock in the Port of Barcelona in another attempt to breach Israel’s maritime anti-terror blockade, with the hope of arriving in Gaza by early October.
At least one of two boats that are to carry 22 women reportedly set out Wednesday night, launched by the “Women’s Boat to Gaza” group under the banner of the Freedom Flotilla organization.
Among the participants in this effort is an Israeli citizen, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, who was born and raised in Kibbutz Kfar HaHoresh, near Nazareth, according to the Global Research Center for Research on Globalization. Regev has allegedly been involved in the Freedom Flotilla organization for the past four years, and is a team leader aboard the Amal.
In an article posted to the Global Research website Thursday (Sept. 15), Regev is quoted as saying the group wants to “give visibility to women in Palestine who have been struggling alongside the men since before the Nakba, since the beginning of the Zionist colonization of Palestine.”
The group also received a letter of support from their “sisters at Women in Black – Israel,” who sent “their solidarity and warm wishes” for their “brave action.”
Led by MEP Martina Anderson, 55 members of the European Parliament also reportedly sent a letter to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union, requesting the EU “act to ensure ‘safe passage of the Flotilla to Gaza.’” The request also “demands that pressure be placed on Israel to end the illegal blockade ..” etc.
Participants in the flotilla include citizens from Sweden, northern Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Turkey, Canada and the United States. On board the “Amal-Hope” and the “Zaytouna-Oliva” vessels are a Swedish member of the European Parliament, and a Malaysian citizen, according to Al Jazeera.
But the flotilla organizers have made it clear from the outset that the mission is not being launched to bring aid to Gaza. “The Women’s Boat to Gaza is a solidarity, not an aid mission,” organizers say on the group’s website.
The organizers also tell outright lies on the site.
“There are always risks whenever the illegal actions of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) are challenged, something the Palestinian people in Gaza live with every day, as the IOF does not respect human rights. In 2010, the IOF killed nine unarmed civilians aboard the Mavi Marmara and a tenth later died of his injuries” the site claims.
Footage filmed on the Mavi Marmara shows the “activists” attacking the soldiers with a stun grenade, a box of plates, and water hoses as the soldiers attempt to board the ship.
The activists are also waiving around metal rods and chains later used to attack the soldiers with. The IDF soldiers were armed with paint ball guns (used for riot dispersal) and pistols which they were ordered to use only as a last resort.
IDF commandos were ordered to redirect that vessel to Ashdod Port in light of the refusal of its captain to heed the directions of the Israel Navy to do so on his own. The so-called “activists” were armed, dangerous and violent.
The Mavi Marmara “activists” initiated the attack against the Israeli forces who boarded the vessel in order to ensure it changed course properly and ended up in Ashdod Port, rather than in Gaza. Then as well, no humanitarian aid was ever found aboard that vessel for the people of Gaza.
The obvious lies and direct attempt to re-ignite the passions that caused six years of conflict between Israel and Turkey over the incident make it clear that the “Women’s Boat to Gaza” is really about incitement, rather than peace.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shook hands Wednesday with Israel’s female interim head of its embassy in Ankara, Shani Cooper, who has been appointed to field the office until permanent ambassadors are appointed by the two countries.
The ceremonial handshake was part of a tradition carried out with the diplomatic corps each year to celebrate Turkey’s Victory Day on August 30.
This time, Erdogan specifically asked to welcome Cooper — a move seen by analysts as an effort to send a positive message to Israelis who are closely watching the Turkish leader in the wake of a six-year break in relations between the two countries.
Cooper responded warmly to the request, expressing Israel’s support for Erdogan and the Turkish nation.
Erdogan requested an interpreter, through whose services he responded with positive remarks on the diplomatic relations between the two countries. He wished Cooper good luck on her position as well.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formally approved the country’s normalization deal with Israel on Wednesday (August 31), the state-run Anadolu Agency reports.
The agreement, signed by Turkish and Israeli negotiators on June 27, restores diplomatic ties between the two former allies after a hiatus of more than six years. Israeli charge d’affaires in Ankara, Amira Oron, said Monday (August 29) the two countries are expected to exchange ambassadors sometime within the next several weeks.
“The Law No. 6743 regarding the approval of the agreement between the Republic of Turkey and the State of Israel over compensation has been submitted to the Prime Ministry for promulgation,” a statement by the president’s office said.
Erdogan sent the agreement 12 days after it was officially approved by the Turkish parliament, and following its approval by Israeli cabinet ministers in late June.
The deal was ratified by Turkish lawmakers on August 19 after weeks of delay due to an attempted coup that failed to overthrow the Turkish government on July 15.
The agreement ends a period of rancor that followed an ugly incident in 2010 in which an illegal flotilla attempted to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza. Among the six vessels participating in the incident was a Turkish ship. Israeli commandos boarding the vessel to redirect it to Ashdod port were attacked by armed “activists” who included Turkish citizens; the resulting clash left 10 Turks dead and numerous Israelis seriously wounded.
Turkey demanded an apology, payment of $20 million in compensation to the families of the dead and lifting of the blockade on Gaza in order to restore relations. “Ankara now considers these terms satisfied,” according to a report published Wednesday in the Hurriyet Daily News. “Israel will hand Turkey a ‘lump sum’ payment within 25 working days of the agreement coming into force, with families of the victims able to access the funds in due course.
“Both sides also agreed individual Israeli citizens or those acting on behalf of the Israeli government would not be held liable — either criminally or financially — for the raid,” according to the report.
Turkey has already been allowed to ship its own humanitarian aid into Gaza, and plans have been started for Ankara to build a hospital in the region.
The agreement to normalize ties between Turkey and Israel was formally submitted Wednesday (Aug. 17) to the Turkish Parliament in Ankara for review and a final vote of approval, or not, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Tourism has taken a serious hit as a result of the coup and the ongoing purges, with numerous countries issuing advisories to its citizens against traveling to Istanbul, further damaging an already compromised economy. For this and other reasons, it is becoming more urgent than ever for Turkey to complete its agreement with Israel and improve its ties with Russia — which it is working on — as well as with others in the region.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a televised interview a week ago (Aug. 11) that the deal would be completed and signed before September, finalized by the Turkish Parliament “as soon as possible.”
Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News quoted Cavusoglu as saying during a joint news conference following a meeting with Palestinian Authority Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Ankara that Turkey is ‘eager to contribute to the Palestinian issue and the Middle East process.’ Cavusoglu added that Turkey had always ‘advocated a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue and would continue to contribute to permanent peace in the region.
“Now we have started a normalization process with Israel,” he said, according to Hurriyet. “According to our latest agreement, the two countries will mutually appoint ambassadors. After this step we will continue to support the Palestinian issue and the Middle East peace process.”
Upon ratification of the agreement by the Turkish Parliament, the two nations will exchange ambassadors to fully restore diplomatic ties. Turkey reportedly plans to build a hospital in Gaza and ratchet up efforts to build an industrial zone project in Jenin.
The deal to restore ties between the two countries was signed on June 28 after numerous repeated attempts to heal the wounds of a breach after a 2010 illegal flotilla that included a Turkish ship attempted to break the marine blockade on Gaza. Israeli commandos boarded the ship to redirect the vessel to Ashdod port, and a clash with armed “activists” ensued, leaving 10 Turks dead and numerous IDF commandos wounded.
Israeli and Turkish delegates spent the better part of 2015 and 2016 working on an agreement to renew the ties between their two nations.
At the end, Israel agreed to pay Turkey $20 million (17.8 million euros) within 25 days, in compensation to the families of those who died in the 2010 clash.
The legal case in Turkish court, targeting the Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara flotilla vessel, will also be dropped, according to Anadolu news agency. In addition, individual Israeli nations will not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident.
So far, only two government ministers, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, both from Likud, are on the record as supporting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to pay upwards of $21 million as reparations to the families of anti-Zionist Turkish activists who attacked IDF soldiers with metal rods, rocks and knives when they attempted to take over the ship Mavi Marmara back in 2010. The deal also included a public apology (check) and easing the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which always ends up as a wise move when dealing with Hamas.
The loud objections from both sides of the aisle which the Netanyahu deal has raised on Monday may be the reason that four ministers Netanyahu was counting on to support him are yet to say anything on the subject: Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Aryeh Deri (Shas), Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Israel Katz (Likud). Meanwhile, three ministers have erected a strong front against the deal: Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), and Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi).
Liberman this week denied reports that he had committed to supporting the deal, as part of his entering the Netanyahu government. In closed sessions he went as far as to say that if he thins the deal is bad, he would vote against it.
Bennett said on Tuesday morning that “the State of Israel must not pay reparations to terrorists who tried to harm the IDF. A rapprochement with Turkey is important for this time and for the interests of the State of Israel, but paying reparations to terrorists is a dangerous precedent the State of Israel would regret in the future.”
A Channel 10 News survey released Monday showed that 56% of Israelis object to the deal with Turkey, and 67% believe it should have been conditioned on the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers in Hamas’ possession, as well as two Israeli civilians believed to be alive.