Turkey Sees no Normalization of Israel Ties Without End to Gaza Blockade

Turkey has insisted Israel end the blockade of Palestinians living in Gaza. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

ANKARA, Dec 28 – Turkey sees no normalization in ties with Israel unless its conditions for ending the Gaza blockade and compensation for the deaths of 10 Turkish activists are met, a presidential spokesman said on Monday.

The comments dampen hopes of a long-awaited rapprochement. Relations have been in crisis since 2010, when 10 Turkish activists were killed in a raid by Israeli commandos on a Turkish boat—the Mavi Marmara—which was trying to breach the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

“Turkey – Israel relations will not normalize until Israel realizes the three conditions. We have not given up on these,” Kalin said.

Aside from demanding an apology for the Mavi Marmara killings, and compensation for families, Turkey also insists Israel ends the blockade of Palestinians living in Gaza.

“Turkey will continue to play its role until a two-state solution is reached, and the Palestinian people have their own state. There cannot be permanent peace in the region until the Palestinian problem is solved,” Kalin told reporters in Ankara.

Expectations that Turkey and Israel will restore normal relations have raised hopes of speedy progress in talks to import Israeli natural gas, potentially a multi-billion-dollar project, particularly since Turkey’s relationship with major energy producer Russia has worsened.

Earlier this month it was revealed that senior officials had met in an effort to mend fences between the two former allies.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said last week that talks on restoring ties with Israel were continuing.

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