A spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that reconciliation with Israel cannot be reached unless the blockade on Gaza is lifted. Ibrahim Kalin said at a press conference that the Turkish demand needs to be addressed first.
The remarks came after report published on Monday, quoting a senior Turkish official, said that Israel and Turkey could be two weeks away from resolving the crisis and reaching a reconciliation agreement.
A Turkish official privy to the negotiations between Israel and Turkey told the Daily Sabah that one of the main issues still in dispute is Israel's response to the Turkish demand to allow it to send a power generator ship to the Gaza coast to supply electricity to the enclave.
"Turkey and Israel do not agree 100 percent," the official was quoted as saying. "There are still certain hurdles we must overcome."
The official said that Israel and Turkey have agreed that in the next round of negotiations, which will take place in the coming weeks, the sides will find solutions to the remaining issues and will publicly announce the end of the crisis that erupted following the takeover of the Turkish flotilla to Gaza, in May, 2010.
Israel did not outright reject the Turkish request to send a power generator ship to Gaza, but stressed that it must consider it before giving a final answer, the Turkish official noted. Israel, he said, is concerned that agreeing to the Turkish request would set a precedent.
According to the official, the next meeting will be the final round of negotiations in which Israel will respond to the Turkish request.
"It is extremely unlikely for the final meeting to not produce any results," he reportedly said. "Neither side wants this to continue for much longer. If Israel agrees to Turkey sending a power ship to the Eastern Mediterranean, respective ambassadors will start serving in Ankara and Tel Aviv in no time."
However, a senior Israeli official denied the Turkish official's assertion. "The issue of sending power-generating ships never came up during the last rounds of negotiations," he said.
According to the Turkish official, Ankara has withdrew most of its demands concerning Gaza and settled for an Israeli commitment to ease the blockade and allow humanitarian aid into the Strip, which are already in place today.
The official however did not specify whether the dispute over the Hamas headquarters in Istanbul was resolved. Israel demands that Turkey shut down the Hamas offices and prohibit Hamas from conducting military activities in Turkey. Ahead of the last round of negotiations, which were held on Thursday, this was the main point of contention between the sides.
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