Erdogan: Turkey-Israel rapprochement will help resolve Mideast conflict
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope Saturday that the fence-mending in relations between Turkey and Israel would lead to a broader settlement in the region, one that would resolve the Middle East problem.
"My wish is that commonsense prevails in this process and we make this process a permanent one to end years-long suffering with withdrawal to 1967 borders," Erdogan told reporters.
Turkey's ties with Israel fell to a historic low after Israeli commandos raided in May 2010 a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing nine Turkish citizens.
Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador in Ankara, saying that relations would not go back to normal unless Israeli government made an official apology, paid redress to the relatives of the victims and removed blockade on Gaza.
A statement on Friday from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said "the tragic outcome of the Mavi Marmara incident was not intended by Israel and that Israel regretted the loss of human life and injury."
"In light of Israel's investigation into the incident which pointed to a number of operational mistakes, the Prime Minister expressed Israel's apology to the Turkish people for any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury and agreed to conclude an agreement on compensation/non-liability," the statement said.
The statement also added that Israel had substantially lifted the restrictions on the entry of civilian goods into the Palestinian territories, including Gaza, and that this would continue as long as calm prevailed.
On Friday Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the move for the normalization of the relations was the result of "three years' hard negotiations."
"In the end our demands have been met. Otherwise, this issue would not close even if it continued for a century," Davutoglu told a televised interview.
On the issue of redress for the relatives of the victims of the Mavi Marmara raid, Erdogan told reporters that officials from the two countries would work on a compensation agreement.
Erdogan said the process of removing the embargoes on Gaza has started, adding that the entry of civilian goods into Palestinian territories should expand to include all border gates.
"We need to see the implementation in this process. As long as the implementation is carried out in a healthy manner, we are willing to make positive contributions," Erdogan said.
Erdogan also said he might pay a visit in Gaza and in the West Bank later in March.
Saturday, March 23, 2013