Turkey, Israel sign deal to normalize ties after six-year rift

Jun 28, 2016 12:00 AM

Turkey signed a broad deal on Tuesday to restore ties with Israel after a six-year rupture, a Turkish foreign ministry official said, formalizing an agreement announced a day earlier by the prime ministers of the two countries.

The deal with Israel after years of negotiation was a rare rapprochement in the divided Middle East, driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals as well as mutual fears over growing security risks.

Relations between Israel and what was once its principle Muslim ally crumbled after Israeli Navy commandos stormed an activist ship in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and killed 10 Turks on board.

Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu signed the accord for the Turkish side in Ankara.Israel's nine-member Security Cabinet is expected to approve the deal on Wednesday, although the Bayit Yehudi party's ministers in the inner forum of cabinet members and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have expressed their opposition to the deal.

In light of the slated Security Cabinet vote, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) charged that the entire 67-member coalition should discuss the deal with Turkey, rather than "settling for a discreet hearing in the Security Cabinet."

"Government members carry the responsibility for any decision, and certainly for decisions of such great importance, so therefore it is appropriate to bring the agreement... bearing long-term implications, for discussion in the coalition," he said.

Meanwhile, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livin lauded the deal with Turkey on Tuesday, asserting that it could open the door to diplomatic efforts with moderate Arab states.

The former justice minister added that the accord with Ankara presents Israel with an opportunity to alter its perception in the international arena. Livni issued an underhanded attack on Prime Minister Netanyahu, stating that in order for Israel to expand diplomacy in the region "we need a leader who doesn't think politics, rather statesmanship."

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