Netanyahu says reconciliation deal with Turkey very close: Report

Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a delegation of visiting U.S. congressmen on May 30 that an agreement on reconciliation with Turkey was very close, sources involved in the meeting have said, as reported by Israeli daily Haaretz on its website.

Netanyahu was very optimistic about relations with Turkey, repeating his statements on the matter three times during the meeting with the congressmen, the sources said.

They said Netanyahu had noted that while relations would not return to the level they were at a decade ago, normalization would help both nations in advancing a long list of shared regional interests.

However, officials in Jerusalem were still waiting to set the decisive meeting between the two negotiating teams, during which the remaining disagreements are meant to be closed.

The Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid flotilla was attempting to pass the blockade of Gaza in May 31, 2010, when Israeli forces stormed the vessel and killed nine Turkish activists. A tenth died in hospital four years later.

Relations between the two countries were seriously damaged in the aftermath of the incident.

Ankara demanded an apology and compensation for the families of those killed, as well as the removal of the blockade on Gaza.

Talks between the two countries have been ongoing in order to restore the relationships.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting on May 30, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said that two of Turkey’s three demands – the apology and compensation – had been realized but Turkey was expecting “at least an ease on the blockade [on Gaza] to make people’s lives there easier.”

The decisive meeting between the two negotiating teams was supposed to have been held a few weeks ago, but was postponed after the resignation of former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the appointment of a new prime minister, Binali Yıldırım.

Haaretz reported the next meeting was expected to be held next week in Europe.

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