IDF Soldiers Will Not Face Criminal Charges as Gaza Flotilla Deal to Become Turkish Law

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The agreement between Israel and Turkey over reparations to the Gaza flotilla victims’ families is slated to be brought before Turkey's parliament in Ankara for approval. According to senior Israeli officials, once it passes, the agreement will be legislated into a law that will prevent Turkish citizens from filing of criminal charges against Israel Defense Forces soldiers and officers involved in the Gaza flotilla incident.

This week, another round of talks between the Israeli and Turkish teams is scheduled to take place. The Israeli team will include former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror and former Foreign Ministry director-general Yosef Ciechanover, while the Turkish delegation will be headed by Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu.

The time and location of the talks have not yet been determined, yet Israel has already suggested it should take place in Jerusalem. The Turks want to show progress on talks with Israel before Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan heads to Washington on May 16. Meanwhile, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be traveling to China on May 5, there isn't much time left to meet and sign an agreement.

Turkish government lawmakers found a way around the legal proceedings against IDF officers and soldiers, notwithstanding that the families have refused to pull the claims filed in the last three years. These are primarily criminal charges filed in an Istanbul court against former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, head of military intelligence Amos Yadlin and other senior Israeli officers.

Once the reparations agreement is approved by the Turkish government, it will then be voted on in the parliament as a binding international treaty . After these two proceedings, the agreement will become a law. According to section 90 of the Turkish constitution, in such a situation, the new law supersedes the authority of the courts to deal with the affair.

The senior Israeli official also specified that the agreement with Turkey will be submitted for approval by the Israeli government as well, so that its status becomes that of an international treaty.

Meanwhile, the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman reported that in the first round of talks in Ankara a week ago, Israel agreed to pay reparations not only to the families of the nine victims killed on the Mavi Maramara, but also to 70 Turkish citizens who were wounded when IDF soldiers took over the ship.

The sides have not yet finalized the exact amount that Israel will pay, but in a draft agreement being currently discussed, they have decided to set up a Turkish government humanitarian fund for compensating the victims' families as well as those wounded. Israel will transfer money to that fund and the Turkish government will use it to pay the families.

In the event that Turkish citizens sue for reparations from Israel after the signing of the agreement and the courts rule in their favor, Israel will not be forced to pay any additional compensation – rather it will come out of this fund.

Pro-Palestinian activists waving Turkish and Palestinian flags from the Mavi Marmara in Istanbul, December 26, 2010.Credit: Reuters

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