For the first time since the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, which brought the already strained relations between Israel and Turkey to their lowest point, an official delegation from Turkey will arrive in Israel on Monday.
The delegation will be headed by Guven Sak, one of the heads of the Turkish Manufacturers and Traders association, and will discuss the development of an industrial zone in the Jenin area.
Turkey plans to invest a total of at least $100 million in this initiative.
The relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained since 2010 whtn the Marmara ship, which claimed to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza," defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel – only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board.
The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine of the IHH members on board. After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid – in fact, no aid supplies at all – whatsoever.
When Israel refused Turkey’s demand that it apologize for the incident and compensate the victims’ families, Turkey cut ties with the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later apologized to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Prime Minister who has since been elected President, over the Marmara incident at the urging of the United States, and the sides were supposed to enter talks on compensation for the victims, but those seem to have stalled.
Recently, however, bilateral trade between the two countries has continued, and signs of a possible renewal of ties grew over the weekend with the appointment of the new Turkish foreign minister.
The new minister, Feridun Sinirlioglu, served as Turkey’s ambassador to Israel for five years between 2002 and 2007, during which the diplomatic ties between the two countries flourished.
Sinirlioglu’s appointment is a temporary one for just two months until new elections are held in Turkey, but it is one which could perhaps be a catalyst to a renewal of ties.
Sinirlioglu has been involved in recent years in efforts to renew ties between the two countries, and Israel interprets his appointment as foreign minister as another step that could lead to the reconciliation between the sides.