Turkey’s parliament approves reconciliation deal with Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The parliament of Turkey approved the reconciliation agreement with Israel restoring diplomatic ties after a six-year freeze.

Lawmakers approved the deal, which normalizes relations between the two countries, early Saturday morning before they left for a summer recess.

Israel’s Knesset had approved the deal in late June.

The Prime Minister’s Office of Israel issued a statement on Saturday night welcoming the approval, saying that Israel “looks forward to the next steps of its implementation, including the return of our respective ambassadors.”

Relations between Israel and Turkey broke down in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010, when Israeli commandos boarded and killed nine Turkish citizens in clashes on a boat attempting to break Israel’s Gaza blockade.

Under the agreement approved Saturday, Turkey will drop legal claims against the Israeli military and individual officers and soldiers who were part of the Mavi Marmara raid. Also, Israel will pay $20 million to a humanitarian fund as compensation to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologized for the deaths, another Turkish condition for the resumption of diplomatic ties.

Hours after Turkey approved the deal, a bomb attack on a wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, located near the Syrian border and a center for Syrians fleeing their country’s civil war, left at least 50 dead.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said the Islamic State was the “likely perpetrator” of the attack.

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