Israel’s apology to Turkey alters Mideast peace: Turkish PM

27 March 2013

Israel’s apology to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara event will lead to an altered balance in the Middle East peace process, said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an address to lawmakers on Tuesday.

Israeli forces killed nine Turkish nationals aboard a vessel carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza in the 2010 incident.

A bilateral deal has been struck whereby Israel must cooperate alongside the Turkish government over the region’s peace process.

The move represents a more assertive stance for Turkey with regard to regional politics.

“The point we have arrived to as a result of our consultations with all our brothers in Palestine and peripheral countries is increasing our responsibility with regard to solving the Palestinian question and thus bringing about a new equation,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Turkish Hurriyet daily.

The report added that Israel has agreed to cooperate with Turkey on carrying out talks with Palestine.

The Turkish prime minister also said that all regional interlocutors, including Hamas’ Khaled Meshaal, must admit that a new era has begun in the Middle East.

An important phone call

Erdoğan went on to outline details of phone conversations between himself, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.

“I talked to him [Netanyahu] and we have reviewed the text and confirmed the apology process. We have therefore accomplished this process under Obama’s witness,” Erdoğan said, adding that the phone conversation was recorded along with a written statement which was issued by all three parties.

Turkish President Abdullah Gül made a statement on the Israeli apology during a joint press conference with visiting Cameroon President Paul Biya on Tuesday, saying: “Israel did what it had to do. Therefore I express my contentment of it. The issue is still very fresh, let’s all wait. This is just a first step.”

As well as apologizing for the Mavi Marmara killings, Israel will also pay compensation to the families of the victims and remove its blockade on Gaza. Talks on how the compensation is to be paid will be held in April between senior diplomats from both Turkey and Israel as part of the agreement made between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.


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