Turks, Israelis to meet as Erdogan plans Gaza trip

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli and Turkish negotiators will meet to work on the details of their reconciliation.

Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, said Monday in an interview with Jewish media that Turkish and Israeli officials would meet next week to work out the provisions of last month’s reconciliation between the Israeli and Turkish leaders brokered by President Obama.

The meeting comes amid plans by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit the Hamas-led Gaza Strip.

Erdogan wants Israel to compensate the families of nine Turks killed in violent clashes during a 2010 Israeli commando raid on a Turkish pro-Palestinian activist ship trying to breach Israel’s Gaza blockade, and he wants Israel to show it is facilitating the entry of goods into Gaza.

Israel wants full diplomatic relations restored and guarantees that its soldiers will be protected from prosecution for the incident, for which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized.

Erdogan on Sunday said he planned to visit Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.

The Obama administration expressed concern about his plans.

Patrick Ventrell, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said Erdogan should coordinate his trip not with Hamas but with the Palestinian Authority, which does not have a presence in Gaza.

“Our position is that engagement with Hamas is counterproductive, and we don’t think it should continue,” Ventrell said Monday at a briefing.

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