Middle East

Israel-Turkey compensation talks stalled as Erdogan's Gaza visit looms

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters and lawmakers at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, June 25, 2013.(AP Photo)

ANKARA: Negotiations have stalled in compensation talks for Turkish families over Israel's 2010 raid on a flotilla of aid bound for Gaza that left nine Turks dead, a source said Thursday.

As tension between the two countries was likely to rise by the announcement by Hamas that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would visit the Gaza strip on July 5, a source close to the Turkish delegation said an imminent compensation agreement was unlikely.

"There are some outstanding issues that need to be addressed regarding the amount that will be allocated to the victims' families," he said.

Turkish and Israeli delegations held talks in April and in May to discuss the amount and the terms of the compensation, which Ankara has laid down as a precondition for normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel.

At the last meeting on May 6, Turkish and Israeli officials came "close" to a deal on compensation for the raid, according to the Israeli premier's office.

But a Turkish diplomatic source said Thursday: "There is an agreement in principle between the parties to resolve this matter but the details are not yet clear."

Turkish media speculated that Israel was not ready to pay as much as $1 million (0.77 million euros) in damages for each victim, as demanded by Ankara.

Nine Turkish nationals died when Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on a six-ship flotilla seeking to bust Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010.

The assault fractured relations between the former regional allies, with Ankara demanding a formal apology and compensation for the families of the raid victims, as well as the lifting of Israel's blockade on Gaza.

Compensation talks finally began in late March, after Israel extended a formal apology to Turkey to get relations back on track.

The Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza told a newspaper on Thursday that Erdogan will visit the territory next Friday. The trip has been planned for some time but Turkish officials had declined to give a date.

The United States opposes the visit, arguing that it would be a "distraction" from efforts to revive the peace process and could damage the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey which was personally brokered by President Barack Obama in March.





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