BEIRUT

Middle East

Turkey arrest move ‘political’: Israel

(FILES) -- File picture shows an undated handout image taken from the Free Gaza Movement website on May 28, 2010 of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara taking part in the "Freedom Flotilla" heading towards the Gaza Strip. AFP PHOTO / FREE GAZA MOVEMENT -

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli officials denounced as "political" Wednesday attempts by a Turkish court to secure an international arrest warrant for four former Israeli military commanders over a deadly 2010 maritime assault.

But the court ruling, issued on Monday, was unlikely to have a "signficant effect" on attempts to restore full diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, which were badly damaged by the raid, officials said.

"Of course we're not happy about it. It seems more political than legal," said Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon during a tour of the Jordan Valley on Tuesday, in remarks relayed by his office.

"We were ready to set things right with Turkey and regulate relations with them," he said.

"There is unfortunately no ripeness on the Turkish side to make things better, and this event is part of the campaign, which is being conducted for Turkish domestic political reasons, among others."

Israel and Turkey have been locked in more than a year of talks over compensation for the deaths of what was initially nine Turks in the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May 2010.

The number rose to 10 last week after one of the injured, who had been in a coma, died, a Turkish NGO said.

The Istanbul court is to ask Interpol to alert police forces around the word to the arrest warrants, but Israeli foreign ministry sources told Maariv newspaper it was unlikely that the international police body would take the request seriously.

"Interpol is a professional body that does not cooperate with political pranks," one source said, adding that the court move was unlikely to affect the reconciliation deal.

It "will not have a significant effect on the efforts being made in the two countries to reach a reconciliation agreement, although the latest development in the trial will now serve as another factor that will delay its signing," he said.

The court ruling is part of an ongoing criminal trial in absentia of the four men on charges brought by Turkish NGO IHH and the victims' families in 2012.

Compensation talks began a year ago after Israel extended a formal apology to Turkey, with the Israeli government reportedly prepared to offer $20 million in compensation to the families of those killed and wounded in the raid.

In exchange, Turkey will drop all further legal claims.

 

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Summary

Israeli officials denounced as "political" Wednesday attempts by a Turkish court to secure an international arrest warrant for four former Israeli military commanders over a deadly 2010 maritime assault.

But the court ruling, issued on Monday, was unlikely to have a "signficant effect" on attempts to restore full diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, which were badly damaged by the raid, officials said.

Israel and Turkey have been locked in more than a year of talks over compensation for the deaths of what was initially nine Turks in the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May 2010 .


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