Premier says pact with Turkey boosts sta­bil­ity

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD -

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.

Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Getty Im­ages

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu also ar­gued the deal will be a ma­jor eco­nomic ben­e­fit.

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