Israel expects reconciliation with Turkey to remain on course

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, 17 July 2016. REUTERS/Abir Sultan/Pool

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel reacted tersely on Sunday to a thwarted coup in Turkey, saying it expected a new reconciliation deal between the two regional powers following a six-year rift to be implemented as planned.

Violence erupted in Turkey late on Friday after the start of the Jewish Sabbath, when most government business officially takes a break.

This allowed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu time to consider his response on the move against Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, long a critic of Israeli policies but now a key player in the rapprochement with Israel.

When the announcement came, it was brief and measured, coming three weeks after Israel and Turkey - once its principal Muslim ally - signed an accord to restore relations.

“Israel and Turkey recently agreed on a reconciliation process. We estimate that this process will continue, unrelated to the dramatic events in Turkey over the weekend,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in televised comments.

On Saturday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman sent a text message to reporters on Saturday that spoke of Israel’s respect for “the democratic process in Turkey”.

Relations between the two countries crumbled after Israeli marines stormed a Turkish activist ship in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, killing 10 Turks on board.

Israel, which had already offered its apologies for the raid, agreed under the deal to pay out $20 million to the bereaved and injured.

Both countries are to appoint ambassadors, and Turkey is to pass legislation indemnifying Israeli soldiers as part of an agreement partly driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals.

Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; editing by David Stamp