Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy to Turkey, Joseph Ciechanover, and National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror will be going to Ankara next Thursday (April 11) for the start of talks on restoring Israeli-Turkish relations.
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A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said the talks are expected to focus on arrangements for compensating the families of the nine Turkish nationals killed in the May 2010 Israel Navy raid on the Gaza flotilla, as well as Turkey’s promise to cease all legal proceedings against Israel Defense Forces personnel involved in the incident.
The Turkish negotiating team will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç. His meeting with Ciechanover and Amidror will be the first high-level meeting between Turkish and Israeli officials since the crisis between the two countries ended last month.
The actual negotiations, however, will be conducted by Turkey's Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, Feridun Sinirlioğlu, Ankara's point man on Israel since the raid on the Mavi Marmara.
The full restoration of bilateral relations is expected to take about three months. Turkey stressed that it will not dispatch a new ambassador to Tel Aviv until after the compensation talks are completed.
A senior Israeli official said these talks are expected to go smoothly and to be wrapped up relatively quickly. He said Israel has agreed to pay each family between $100,000 and $200,000, which he said was comparable with the amounts in comparable cases in the past. Israeli officials say they believe the Turks will demand more money.
Arınç and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met Tuesday with representatives of the families and their lawyers to discuss the compensation talks and to ask them to retract their lawsuits against Israeli military personnel.
Arınç told a Turkish television station Tuesday that any family that does not agree to drop its lawsuit will not receive compensation.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Turkey on Saturday, a few days before Ciechanover and Amidror.
Kerry, who played a key role in the final stage of the talks that ended the Turkish-Israeli crisis, is to meet with between Turkey and Israel, will be visiting Istanbul on his way to Jerusalem.
He will meet with Davutoğlu on Sunday to discuss the normalization process, before continuing on to Jerusalem.
The Israel-Turkey crisis strained relations between Ankara and Washington. After it was resolved, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received his first invitation to visit the White House since the disruption. He is scheduled to arrive in Washington on May 16, where he will meet with President Barack Obama.