Netanyahu formally announces reconciliation deal with Turkey
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally announced a reconciliation agreement with Turkey, ending a six-year cut in diplomatic ties.
“Israel has made an important strategic agreement in terms of security, regional stability, and the Israeli economy,” Netanyahu said Monday afternoon in Rome.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim made an announcement simultaneously in Ankara. The agreement will be signed on Tuesday in Jerusalem and in Ankara.
Israeli news outlets reported that the agreement had been reached in Rome on Sunday, citing an unnamed senior Israeli official involved with the negotiations.
“I don’t run the country according to tweets or headlines, but according to what is good for the country’s security, economy and interests,” Netanyahu said. “This agreement is important and isn’t devoid of criticism. Gas and the Israeli economy will be promoted by the agreement. This doesn’t mean we’ve started a honeymoon period, and I’m not trying to embellish [the agreement]. But our critical interests are promoted by this deal.”
Relations between Israel and Turkey broke down in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, when Israeli commandos boarded and killed nine Turkish citizens in clashes on a boat attempting to break Israel’s Gaza blockade.
Netanyahu enumerated the seven main points of the agreement, including protecting the commanders and fighters of the Israel Defense Forces from criminal and civil charges; maintaining the naval blockade of Gaza, and assistance from Turkey in repatriating two Israeli citizens and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers being held by Hamas in Gaza.
Netanyahu also said the agreement “opens the door to cooperation on economic and energy issues,” including selling natural gas to Turkey.
The family of Hadar Goldin, one of the soldiers whose body is being held by Hamas, rejected the deal, saying Netanyahu acted in opposition to his promises that the deal would return their son’s body and that of Oron Shaul. Both soldiers were killed during Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza.