Erdogan: Israel must act on agreement before normalized ties


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said normalization of relations with Israel will not take place until Israel fulfills its part of the agreement.

Turkey and Israel agreed to normalize ties after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for Israel’s 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara ship as it attempted to break a maritime blockade of Gaza and agreed to compensate the families of nine Turks killed in the ensuing violence when Israeli naval commandos boarded the ship.

Erdogan said that Netanyahu also agreed to ease the restriction of goods flowing into Gaza.

"We have said an apology will be made, compensation will be paid and the blockade on Palestine will be lifted," Erdogan said Sunday in a public address in Turkey, according to The Associated Press. "There will be no normalization without these.

"Normalization will happen the moment there is an implementation. But if there is no implementation, then I am sorry."

The two leaders talked last Friday by phone in a communication initiated by President Obama, according to statements by Netanyahu’s office and the White House. Netanyahu apologized for "operational errors" during the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

"The two men agreed to restore normalization between Israel and Turkey, including the dispatch of ambassadors and the cancellation of legal steps against IDF soldiers," said the Israeli statement.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials said Sunday that Israel did not agree to end its blockade on Gaza. Israel will ease its blockade on Gaza if there is quiet on its southern border, including a complete cessation of missiles fired from Gaza on southern Israel, Israel’s national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, told Army Radio.

"We do not intend to give up on our right to respond to what happens in Gaza because of the agreement with the Turks," he said.

Turkey withdrew its high-level diplomats from Israel and froze deals with Israel’s military in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident.

Erdogan said Saturday that he would visit Gaza in April, confirming an earlier announcement by Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

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