AKP: Turkey-Israel Talks Going Well, No Deal Yet

ANKARA (Reuters) -
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu talks during a joint news conference with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, after their meeting at his office in Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. Merkel is meeting Turkish leaders to promote a EU plan that would offer aid and concessions to Turkey in exchange for measures to stem the mass movement of migrants across Europe's borders.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Talks between Turkey and Israel to mend fences are going well but a deal has not yet been reached in efforts to improve relations and increase energy cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey’s ruling AK Party spokesman said on Thursday.

“We have information that the talks are going well but unless we see practical implications of the talks, we cannot say it’s a done deal,” Omer Celik told reporters in Ankara.

Turkey was once Israel’s closest regional ally, but ties between the two countries broke down in 2010 after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American. In the aftermath of the raid, Turkey became one of the strongest critics of Israeli actions in Gaza.

Israel apologized to Turkey for the deaths and agreed to compensate the victims’ families under a U.S.-brokered arrangement in 2013. But efforts to restore ties faltered.

A formal restoration of relations has proven elusive, however. Diplomats say Turkey wants an end to the Gaza blockade that Israel deems necessary for preventing Palestinian arms smuggling, while Israel wants Ankara to disengage from Hamas.

“Turkey is supporting Hamas, generally speaking. It should be, of course, discussed,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters during a visit to Switzerland.

“I’m not sure that we are going to reach settlement. It may be, but they have to address our conditions for any political settlement in order to overcome this obstacle.”