Turkey parliament officially mends six-year rift with Israel
The Turkish parliament approved the reconciliation agreement with Israel on Saturday. (Representational photo) Photograph: (Getty)
Turkey's parliament on Saturday approved a reconciliation agreement signed with Israel in June which has brought a six-year rift between the two regional powers to an end.
Relations between the two countries crumbled after Israeli marines stormed a Turkish ship in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, killing 10 Turks on board.
Israel, which had already offered its apologies for the raid, agreed under the deal to pay out $20 million to the bereaved and injured in return for Turkey dropping outstanding legal claims.
Both countries are to appoint ambassadors under an agreement which is partly driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals.
"I don't think there will be a problem during its (Israel deal) implementation. Israel is dependent on Turkey's security. Israel can't afford to be against Turkey while being in a region surrounded by Arab and Islamic countries. Secondly, there are natural gas resources in the Mediterranean that they are pursuing and we want to be a part of it. The shortest and safest route to transport natural gas to Europe is through Turkey," said AKP lawmaker Burhan Kuzu.
The accord, signed on June 28, was a rare rapprochement in the divided Middle East, also driven by mutual fears over growing security risks. Two weeks later, more than 240 people were killed in an attempted coup in Turkey.
Under the deal, the naval blockade of Gaza, which Ankara had wanted lifted, remains in force, although humanitarian aid can continue to be transferred to Gaza via Israeli ports.
Israel says the Gaza blockade is needed to curb arms smuggling by Hamas, an Islamist group that last fought a war with Israel in 2014.