Israel proposes Turkey compensation

Israel offers compensation to relatives of the nine Turks killed during a raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May.

    The rapprochement talks follow Turkey's decision last week to send two aircraft to help Israel fight a forest fire [EPA]

    Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has proposed paying compensation to relatives of Turkish citizens killed during a raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, in exchange for Turkey's help in protecting the Israeli navy against lawsuits, officials said.

    The draft, offered over the weekend in Geneva, Switzerland, some $100,000 to each family of the nine pro-Palestinian activists who were shot dead trying to breach Israel's Gaza blockade in May. They were shot by Israeli marines who boarded the aid-carrying flotilla the Mavi Marmara.

    It also offered an Israeli expression of "regret" over the incident and included measures for mending ties, according to Israeli diplomatic sources, but stopped short of Turkey's demand Israel formally "apologise" for the deaths.

    Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, described the reports of an Israeli offer as "speculative" and said on Thursday his government's demands had not changed.

    "We don't think it is right to cite figures, or discussions of apology or regret," Davutoglu said.

    "The citing of figures or the matter of regret did not come onto the agenda."

    Turkey has thus far refused to resume full diplomatic relations with Israel until it receives an apology for the raid, which remains the subject of investigation by the United Nations and Israel.

    'Big obstacles'

    "There is a debate on the wording, on the word 'apology'," Ozdem Sanberk, who took part in bilateral fence-mending talks in Geneva on Sunday and Monday, told the AFP news agency.

    "As far as it concerns the Turkish side, it has never negotiated a word other than the word 'apology'," he said.

    According to the Israeli press, some Israeli officials are opposed to extending an "apology" for the deaths in the May 31 raid of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla, saying Israel should only express "regret" at the bloodshed.

    "We made a compensation offer, and asked the Turks to do what needs to be done to address our legal concerns. We also want to see them return their ambassador and allow us to appoint a new ambassador in Ankara," an Israeli official said on Thursday.

    "For now, however, there are still big obstacles."

    Nine people were killed on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, as it tried to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza [EPA]

    At the meetings in Geneva, the two sides drew up a draft deal to end the deep crisis between the one-time allies, which was presented to the leaders of the two countries, Sanberk said.

    "No new meeting has been scheduled. We are waiting for the decision" of the leaders, he added.

    The Geneva talks followed Turkey's decision to send two fire-fighting planes to help Israel battle a deadly forest fire that raged out of control last week, in a gesture that raised hope for bilateral ties.

    Netanyahu had pledged to "find ways to express our appreciation" to the Turks.

    However, Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the Justice and Development (AK) Party, on Tuesday signalled no flexibility in Turkey's terms.

    "If there are those who want to start a new period, I repeat: They must accept their guilt, apologise and pay compensation. I say too that the embargoes, which have been eased but not enough, should be lifted," he told AK legislators.

    In response to the flotilla raid, Ankara recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and cancelled joint military exercises. It also twice denied permission to Israeli military aircraft to use its air space.

    Relations had been already strained over Israel's devastating war on Gaza last year, amid Erdogan's frequent criticisms of Israel and his defence of Palestinian group Hamas.

    Turkey and Israel had enjoyed a decade of close ties since 1996 when they signed a military co-operation agreement.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.