Gaza, Agencies - Israel has offered Turkey $20 million in compensation for the families of the nine Turkish nationals killed and to those wounded during the 2010 Israeli occupation forces raid on the Mavi Marmara, Western diplomats said.
The diplomats, who were briefed on the negotiations but asked to speak anonymously, said that progress was being made but there was still no agreement.
The reconciliation talks between Turkey and Israel, which had petered out for many months, were revived in early December when the Turks invited the Israeli negotiating team – national security adviser Yossi Cohen; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy, Joseph Ciechanover; and Foreign Ministry director general Nissim Ben Sheetrit – to return to Istanbul.
During that round of talks, the Turks softened their position and lowered their compensation demands. Western diplomats said that the Turks had demanded $30 million, which was still double the $15 million Israel was prepared to pay.
In the weeks after the negotiators returned home, Netanyahu held several consultations with them, after which he decided to up Israel’s offer to $20 million. Western diplomats said Netanyahu even gave the team permission to go up to $3 million higher if necessary to secure an agreement. It’s not clear whether Turkey will be willing to show flexibility again in its stance and lower its compensation demands to match that being offered by Israel.
The money will not be paid directly to the wounded or the families of the dead. It will be deposited in a humanitarian fund and distributed to the victims in accordance with defined criteria.
Israeli commandos raided on a Gaza-bound aid ship called Mavi Marmara three years ago, nine Turks were killed.
The ship came to deliver aid to Gaza, breaking the Israeli blockade on the it. The ships were carrying 10,000 tons of goods, including school supplies, building materials and two large electricity generators.
The deterioration in relations with Turkey reached rock-bottom in May 2010, after the Marmara raid. The crisis led to a downgrading of official relations and the eventual expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ankara in September 2011.
ALRAY contributed to this