Report: Israel, Turkey close to normalizing relations

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Turkey and Israel are close to normalizing bilateral relations for the first time since the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, Turkey’s foreign minister said.

“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,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a television interview on Sunday, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

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Davutoglu said “serious progress had been achieved.”

He did not say when the talks would be finalized and did not announce the amount of compensation to the victims of the incident or their families that was being discussed. That amount has been the source of a great deal of tension in the negotiations.

The foreign minister also noted that there has been an easing of the Israeli blockage on goods entering and leaving Gaza, which had been a condition for normalizing relations with the Jewish state.

Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and then expelled Israel’s ambassador after the 2010 flotilla incident, in which Israeli troops killed nine Turkish nationals when it moved to stop the Mavi Marmara from breaking Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in March 2013, after which representatives of the countries met for reconciliation talks.