Israel-Turkey Diplomatic Crisis Nears Its End

Turkish sources say two rounds of talks between Israeli, Turkish officials have been 'very positive'; Israel has agreed in principle to apologize and pay compensation for the Gaza flotilla incident.

Israel and Turkey are close to agreeing on a document that will let them put an end to the crisis in their relations. The results of two rounds of talks between the two sides in Geneva have been "very positive" and discussions will continue, Turkish diplomatic sources say.

Israel's representative on the UN panel investigating the Gaza-bound flotilla incident, Yosef Ciechanover, met for the second time on Monday with senior Turkish diplomat Feridun Sinirlioglu. The discussions centered around a formula that would have Israel apologize for the incident and arrange for compensation for the dead and injured Turkish citizens.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan Reuters nov 27 2010

Haaretz has learned that the two sides have agreed to present their ideas to prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Recep Tayyip Erdogan to receive further instructions. More discussions are due between legal experts on both sides.

Israel agreed in principle to apologize and pay compensation, and the Turks agreed that if these two aspects are adhered to they would "normalize" relations with Israel and return their ambassador to Tel Aviv.

Nonetheless, both the apology and compensation remain problematic from legal and political perspectives.

A European diplomat familiar with the discussions said the apology is the toughest of the two issues. The two sides are trying to find a formula that would let Erdogan claim that the statement was an apology, but for Netanyahu to argue that it was not - only an expression of appreciation for Turkey's assistance in putting out the fires in the Carmel region.