Turkey Signs Deal to Normalize Ties With Israel

ANKARA (Reuters) -
A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2016. Picture taken June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Sunday. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)

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, reached 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.

It was formally signed on Tuesday by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu in Ankara and Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold in Jerusalem, officials said.

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

Under the deal, the naval blockade of Gaza, which Ankara had wanted lifted, remains in force, although humanitarian aid can continue to be transferred to Gaza via Israeli ports.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said late on Monday the two countries might appoint ambassadors “in a week or two.”