Israeli, Turkish officials hold secret meeting to restore ties


JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli and Turkish officials reportedly met in secret in an effort to restore relations between the two countries.

The meeting reportedly was held Monday in Rome between Israel’s Foreign Ministry director-general, Dore Gold, and Feridun Sinirlioglu, a former Turkish ambassador to Israel. The Israeli daily Haaretz was the first to report the meeting.

Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and expelled Israel’s ambassador following the deadly flotilla incident in 2010 involving a Turkish ship trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Israeli troops killed nine Turkish nationals in clashes aboard the Mavi Marmara.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call brokered by President Barack Obama in March 2013, after which representatives of the countries met for reconciliation talks.

Israel reportedly presented a compensation deal to Turkey a year ago, but no agreement was reached. Full diplomatic relations, including an exchange of ambassadors, still has not occurred.

The meeting comes two weeks after the AKP Party of anti-Israel Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost its majority in parliamentary elections, forcing it to seek a coalition.

A new flotilla sponsored by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway has set sail to break the maritime blockade on Gaza.

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