JERUSALEM (JTA) – Turkey has agreed to allow Israel to participate in non-military NATO activities in the coming year.
The country still objects to Israel taking part in joint military exercises, however, a Turkish official told Reuters Monday.
Turkey has prevented Israel from participating in such NATO activities since May 31, 2010, when nine Turkish citizens died when Israeli Navy commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, which was trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Israel is part of the Mediterranean Dialogue, along with six other non-NATO countries, which allows them to participate in summits and training exercises. Any NATO member can prevent another country from participating.
A Turkish court last month began a trial in absentia of four Israeli military commanders responsible for the raid, including former IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. The Israelis could be sentenced in absentia to life in prison.
Israel’s government-appointed Turkel Commission found in its investigation that the government and the military behaved appropriately, and that the blockade of Gaza was legal. The United Nations’ Palmer Committee also found the blockade to be legal but said Israel used excessive force while boarding the vessel.
Turkey’s inquiry deemed the Gaza blockade and the Israeli raid to be illegal.