Turkey, Israel Agree to Restore Ties

Turkey, Israel Agree to Restore TiesTurkey, Israel Agree to Restore Ties

Turkey and Israel have reached a preliminary agreement to normalize relations, including the return of ambassadors to both countries, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

The deal was reached during a recent meeting in Switzerland between the incoming head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen, Israeli envoy Joseph Ciechanover and Turkish Foreign Ministry under-secretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, Reuters reported.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment. A Turkish official confirmed that talks had taken place but denied any agreement had been reached, adding that efforts to normalize relations were continuing.

Israel’s once-strong ties to Turkey soured in 2010 when Israeli commandoes killed 10 Turkish activists when storming the Mavi Marmara, a ship in a convoy seeking to break an Israeli naval blockade of the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Under the preliminary agreement, Israel will establish a compensation fund to address the killing of Turkish activists and Turkey would then drop all claims against Israel, the official added.

Ankara is looking to diversify natural gas supplies after relations with Moscow, its biggest gas supplier, soured when Turkish air force shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Israeli border.

Turkey’s restoration of ties with Israel will raise hopes of speedy progress in talks to import Israeli natural gas, potentially a multi-billion-dollar project.