Turkey confirms ‘secret’ talks with Israel


(JTA) — Turkey confirmed it is negotiating with Israel on a deal to improve relations between the two countries, which have been tense since 2010, when Israel raided the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish boat seeking to break the Gaza blockade.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters Wednesday that the two countries are meeting to normalize ties, the Times of Israel reported.

Cavusoglu’s comments came a day after Haaretz reported that Israeli and Turkish officials had held secret talks in Rome earlier in the week.

“These meetings are not new,” Cavusoglu said. “Expert-level talks have been held between the two countries for a while.”

After the Mavi Marmara raid, in which nine activists were killed and seven Israeli soldiers wounded, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador. It demanded Israel formally apologize, provide compensation and end the blockade of Gaza.

In 2013, Israel extended a formal apology. According to the Times of Israel, the Jewish state also has made a proposal to compensate the families of the victims, but no agreement has been made yet.

The talks come two weeks after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), lost its majority in the Turkish parliament.

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