Turkish FM: ‘One meeting away from Israel normalization deal’

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that in just one or two meetings a rapprochement deal with Israel will be reached, indicating that the normalization talks started last December are reaching a close.

Even as he made the assessment in an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber, Cavusoglu said Israel must lift obstacles against aid for Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, reports Reuters.

Just last Thursday Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that "90% of the topics" had been agreed on.

It remains to be seen what agreement will be reached over a central sticking point of Turkey's demand to lift the naval blockade on Gaza, which is meant to stop the influx of weapons to Gazan terrorists.

Turkish officials have at times claimed Israel agreed to building a seaport in Gaza, although Israel has denied the move over terror concerns. However, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) for his part has repeatedly called to build the seaport.

Another point of contention has been the fact that Turkey has allowed a Hamas headquarters in Istanbul to continue actively planning attacks inside Israel.

Senior sources in the Israeli security establishment in April accused Ankara of playing a "double game," and "using" Israel so as to pressure Russia into being less belligerent as the two countries are in the midst of a tense standoff.

Ties between Israel and Turkey collapsed after the infamous 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which a Turkish flotilla tried to breach Israel's legal naval blockade on Gaza.

The main ship, later found not to be carrying humanitarian goods despite its claims, refused orders to turn around and forced IDF soldiers to board it where they were attacked and wounded by Turkish Islamists armed with knives and metal bars. The soldiers were forced to open fire to defend themselves, killing ten.

Under pressure from US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey over the incident in 2013, and last December Israel reportedly agreed to pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the Islamists, launching the rapprochement talks.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/213382

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