ANKARA – The Turkish parliament has approved a deal to normalise ties with Israel after a delay caused by the July 15 failed coup attempt, believed to have been masterminded by the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Lawmakers ratified late on Aug. 19 the agreement to restore relations between the two former close regional allies after a six-year rift. Parliament was due to go into summer recess.
Under the deal, Israel will pay Turkey $20 million (17.7 million euros) in compensation for a botched [sic] Israeli commando raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship in 2010 that left 10 Turks dead, state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Israel will hand Turkey a “lump sum” within 25 working days of the agreement coming into force, the agency said, which families of the victims will receive in due course.
Under the terms of the deal, both sides 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, Anadolu said.
Israeli cabinet ministers approved the deal with Turkey in late June but Ankara did not send it to parliament because of time pressure following the July 15 failed takeover.
Israel was quick to give its support to the Turkish government in the aftermath of the coup bid, condemning it while repeating its faith in the reconciliation process between the two countries.
Now the deal has been approved, the two countries are expected to begin the process of exchanging ambassadors to fully restore diplomatic ties.
The agreement also involves an easing of the naval blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip allowing Turkey to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians there via Israel’s Ashdod port.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously spoken about the economic advantages of improved relations, discussing the possibility of a pipeline to Turkey to export Israeli gas.
The rapprochement between the two countries came after secret talks held in December 2014 with two more rounds in February 2015 in Geneva and April this year in London.
A full photo gallery is here of the interception and massacre on board the Mavi Marmora by Israeli commandos during the night of May 30-31, 2010. The ship was sailing from Turkey as part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.
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