Turkey, Israel resume reconciliation talks

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel and Turkey resumed informal reconciliation talks.

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Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, confirmed to CNN on Sunday reports that the two countries were discussing how to repair the relationship between the governments that broke down over Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara ship.

Nine Turkish citizens died when Israeli Navy commandoes boarded the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be carrying humanitarian aid, on May 31, 2010 after warning the ship not to sail into waters near the Gaza Strip in circumvention of Israel’s naval blockade of the coastal strip.

Turkey has demanded that Israel apologize for the raid, compensate the families of those killed and halt its blockade of Gaza. Israel has offered to fulfill the first two of the requests.

A Turkish court earlier this month began a trial in absentia of four Israeli military commanders responsible for the raid, including former Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.  The Israelis could be sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

Israel’s government-appointed Turkel Commission found in its investigation that the government and the military behaved appropriately, and that the blockade of Gaza was legal. The United Nations’ Palmer Committee also found the blockade to be legal but said Israel used excessive force while boarding the vessel.

Turkey’s inquiry deemed the Gaza blockade and the Israeli raid to be illegal.

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