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.