Israeli, Turkish Officials to Meet April 12 for Talks Over Compensation to Flotilla Victims' Families

Turkish prosecutors tell AFP that dropping charges against Israeli military officials for alleged role in deadly raid on Gaza-bound vessel is 'out of the question.'

Israeli and Turkish officials are set to meet on April 12 to negotiate compensation for the deadly 2010 flotilla raid, for which Israel apologized last week, AFP reported Friday, citing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"After the apology, we have the compensation [issue] ahead of us. A delegation [from Israel] will travel to Turkey on April 12 for talks on this," Erdogan said in an interview with the CNN-Turk television.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc had initially said the talks over payment to the victims' families would start next week, in remarks carried by the private NTV broadcaster.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey, ending a near three-year diplomatic rift. The breakthrough was brokered by U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Israel.

Erdogan accepted the apology "in the name of the Turkish people" but said the country's future relationship with Israel would depend on Israel.

Israel now expects Turkey to drop the legal proceedings it has been pursuing in the case, the centerpiece of which is the high-profile trial in absentia of four Israeli ex-military chiefs by an Istanbul court that opened in November.

Turkish prosecutors are seeking life sentences for the four over the raid, in which nine Turkish activists were killed aboard the Mavi Marmara vessel. The ship was part of a flotilla making its way from Turkey to the Gaza Strip with the purpose of breaking the maritime blockade Israel had placed on the coastal territory.

"It's out of the question for the government to cancel the trial at the Istanbul court," said Ramazan Ariturk, one of the lawyers representing the victims, told AFP.

"There is no return from the case which has to be concluded under the existing Turkish laws," he said. 

AP