Israel Says It Reached Preliminary Accord to Restore Turkey Ties

  • Israel to pay compensation over 2010 Gaza flotilla raid
  • Nations to discuss building Israel-Turkey natural gas pipeline

Israel and Turkey have reached a preliminary agreement to restore diplomatic relations ruptured by the 2010 Israeli naval raid on a Turkish aid ship heading for the Gaza Strip, an Israeli government official said.

The understanding was reached at secret talks in Switzerland, according to the official, who was not authorized to comment on record. A final deal has yet to take shape, he said.

Under the plan, Israel will establish a fund to compensate the families of victims of the commando raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was attempting to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Nine Turks were killed in the action, and another later died of his injuries. In return, Turkey will abandon efforts to prosecute Israeli military personnel who took part in the ship’s seizure.

Turkey also agreed that it will no longer allow entry to a senior operative from the military wing of the Hamas Islamic movement that controls Gaza, the Israeli official said. Israel has accused the Hamas militant, Salel al-Aruri, of organizing attacks against it from within Turkey.

The nations will also hold talks on building a pipeline to export natural gas from Israel’s offshore fields to Turkey, the Israeli official said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier Thursday that Turkey was interested in purchasing Israeli gas.

Turkish officials told Bloomberg this week that progress had been made toward an agreement with Israel, driven partly by Turkey’s current conflict with Russia and its need to find alternative sources of fuel. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been a fierce critic of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, adopted a more conciliatory tone in remarks published Monday, saying a reconciliation between the nations would be “beneficial” for the region.

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