Erdogan Outburst on Gaza Clouds Reconciliation Hopes

YERUSHALAYIM -

Whatever the accuracy of recent reports that Israel and Turkey are nearing a reconciliation agreement may have been, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s renewed demand for a lifting of the Gaza blockade has dramatically reduced the prospects.

During a news conference held on Tuesday, Erdogan returned to making any reconciliation with Israel contingent on an end to the blockade.

“The compensation talks on behalf of the victims of the Mavi Marmara, which are taking place between Ankara and Yerushalayim, have not concluded,” Erdogan said. “In the final stages, there will be a need to include a clause in the protocol that calls for the lifting of the siege on Gaza.”

The remark took many by surprise, coming just two days after Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the countries are as close as they have been yet to ending the years-long quarrel over the Mavi Marmara incident, in which a Turkey-sponsored vessel tried to run the blockade and several died when they offered violent resistance to an IDF boarding party.

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News quoted Davutoglu, who has often been hostile to Israel, as saying that “there has recently been a momentum and new approach in compensation talks. We could say that most of the differences have been removed recently in these discussions.”

Israeli diplomatic officials declined comment.