Report: Efforts to normalize Turkey-Israel relations fail

( Government officials have signaled that Israel’s efforts to normalize its diplomatic relations with Turkey have failed, Israel Hayom reported.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Credit: World Economic Forum.

Israel-Turkey relations soured in May 2010, when Israeli naval commandos boarded the ship Mavi Marmara to enforce Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. Militants attacked the commandos on board, and the ensuing clash left nine Turkish nationals dead and several Israeli soldiers wounded.

During U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel in March, Obama arranged a phone call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which Netanyahu apologized for the deaths of the Turkish citizens during the Marmara raid.

Israel and Turkey agreed to start negotiations with the stated goal of bring relations back to normal, including returning ambassadors to Ankara and Tel Aviv. The negotiations, however, failed to produce an agreement. According to government sources cited by Israel Hayom, the two issues that caused the talks to deadlock were the amount of compensation the Turkish victims’ families would be paid and the very definition of the restitution payment.

A compromise could have been reached over the sum to be paid, a source said, but the root of them problem was Turkey’s insistence on calling the payments “punitive damages” and not “compensation,” which carries different legal ramifications to which Israel could not agree.

Posted on August 26, 2013 .