Netanyahu: Israel to maintain Gaza naval blockade after deal with Turkey

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome, Italy, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Giuseppe Lami/Pool

ROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday an Israeli naval blockade of Gaza will remain in force after a deal normalizing Israel’s political and diplomatic ties with Turkey.

At a news conference in Rome, Netanyahu said the agreement announced with Ankara, ending a six-year rift after a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish ship challenging the blockade, preserves “the defensive maritime blockade” of the Hamas-run enclave. But he said humanitarian aid could continue to reach Gaza through Israeli ports.

“This is a supreme security interest of ours. I was not willing to compromise on it. This interest is essential to prevent the force-buildup by Hamas and it remains as has been and is,” Netanyahu said.

Reporting by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller