Premier says pact with Turkey boosts stability
JERUSALEM — Israel and Turkey struck a broad reconciliation pact Monday that will restore full diplomatic relations after six years of animosity between the once-close Mideast powers.
The deal gave a welcome boost to the leaders of the two countries, both of whom have seen their international standing deteriorate in recent months. But differences remain over a root cause of the rift — Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip — and there’s no indication the two countries will restore their once close security ties.
Turkey also took steps toward improving strained ties with Moscow on Monday by expressing regret for bringing down a Russian plane near the border with Syria last year.
The agreement will include an exchange of ambassadors and Israeli compensation — $20 million — for the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens from a 2010 Israeli naval raid on an activist flotilla that aimed to breach the Gaza blockade. Turkey will also be allowed to bring relief supplies into Gaza and carry out new development projects there.
“The world is convulsing. The Middle East is convulsing. My policy is to create centers of stability in this unstable and stormy region,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he announced details of the deal during an official visit to Rome.
“With this deal, the process of returning ties to normal has begun,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in Ankara.
Relations between Israel and Turkey began to decline soon after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose party has Islamist roots, became prime minister in 2003.
Since then, Erdogan, who became president two years ago, has sought closer ties with Muslim nations in the region while trying to distance his country from Israel. Erdogan’s close ties with Hamas, an Islamic Palestinian militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, further strained ties.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also argued the deal will be a major economic benefit.