Israel and Turkey discuss compensation for ship raid victims

ANKARA Mon Apr 22, 2013 5:36am EDT

The Turkish-owned cruise liner Mavi Marmara is seen under maintenance at a shipyard in Istanbul April 21, 2013. Israel apologised to Turkey over the killing of nine Turks in a 2010 naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, which included the Mavi Marmara, and the two agreed to normalise relations in phone calls arranged by U.S. President Barack Obama on his recent trip to Israel. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

The Turkish-owned cruise liner Mavi Marmara is seen under maintenance at a shipyard in Istanbul April 21, 2013. Israel apologised to Turkey over the killing of nine Turks in a 2010 naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, which included the Mavi Marmara, and the two agreed to normalise relations in phone calls arranged by U.S. President Barack Obama on his recent trip to Israel.

Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer

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ANKARA (Reuters) - An Israeli delegation arrived in Turkey on Monday for the first time since 2010 to discuss compensation for the killing of nine Turks by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship, a sign of improving relations between the two U.S. allies.

The visit, led by an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, follows an apology from Israel last month, brokered by U.S. President Barack Obama, for the killings on board the Mavi Marmara aid ship in May 2010.

Turkey cut its once extensive ties with the Jewish state after the Israelis killed nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists on the vessel which was trying to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza, a Palestinian enclave run by the Hamas Islamist group.

Ankara expelled Israel's ambassador and froze military cooperation after a U.N. report into the incident, released in September 2011, largely exonerated the Jewish state.

It set precise conditions for normalizing ties - an apology, compensation and Israel lifting its embargo on Gaza.

A rapprochement between two of Washington's main Middle Eastern allies could bolster U.S. influence in the region, help coordination to contain spillover from the Syrian civil war, and ease Israel's diplomatic isolation among its neighbors.

But for all the diplomatic flurry, a full restoration of ties still appears some way off.

Israel has made clear it did not commit to ending its Gaza blockade as part of the reconciliation, an oft-repeated Turkish demand, saying days after the apology that it could clamp down even harder on the enclave if security is threatened.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday to delay a visit planned for late May to Gaza.

Kerry, who has visited the region several times in recent weeks, said Erdogan's trip could endanger U.S. efforts to revive Ankara's ties with Israel and Middle East peace talks.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Angus MacSwan)

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Comments (1)
Reuters1945 wrote:
When the Israeli delegation arrives in Turkey to discuss compensation for the killing of nine Turks by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship, will they also discuss compensation for the 767 Jewish men, women and children of the doomed Holocaust era ship named the Struma.

Turkey is 100 per cent directly responsible for their tragic and unnecessary deaths.

The doomed ship, the Struma, which carried almost 800 Jewish refugees trying to escape Hitler’s gas chambers, was not allowed to disembark its passengers in Turkey.

On February 23, 1942, with a broken engine and no water or provisions the Turkish police towed the ancient boat out to sea and abandoned it to its fate.

The following day the ship sank and all but one of the 767 Jewish refugees on board, drowned in the freezing waters twelve miles from the Coast near Istanbul.

It is astounding that no one wants to talk about this event as if it is a taboo subject, and almost as if it never happened and the 767 passengers of the Struma, so desperate to stay alive, never perished in a watery grave at the bottom of the sea.

Why the deafening silence regarding Turkey’s direct hand and responsibility in the sinking of the Struma ?

Politics is indeed a rather ugly and shabby business, is it not.

Before Israel agrees to pay one penny to Turkey in compensation for the killing of the nine Turks, the Israeli delegation should first discuss and settle on just compensation for the 767 Holocaust era refugees on board the doomed ship, the Struma, all of whom were effectively murdered when the Turkish government ordered the Struma towed out to sea and its passengers left to die.

Apr 22, 2013 8:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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