Turkey consulted with the Palestinians at "every step" of negotiations with Israel, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday night, after a reconciliation agreement between the two countries was announced earlier in the day.
"We will continue to object to Israel's unlawful practices in Jerusalem and Masjid al-Aqsa," the Turkish leader said, referring to the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.
Speaking to tradesmen at a Ramadan fast-breaking meal at his Ankara residence, Erdogan also said that a ship bearing aid will set sail for Gaza as soon as Friday. "Furthermore, we will move forward with the construction of the Jenin industrial zone in the West Bank," he added.
The announcement on Monday that Israel and Turkey have reached a reconciliation agreement was a turning point in relations that had become cooler when an Islamist government first came to office in Ankara in 2002, but which plummeted in 2010 when 10 Turkish citizens were killed after Israeli navy commandos boarded a Turkish flotilla aiming to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.
The reconciliation agreement, which was negotiated in fits and starts over years, provides for the funding by Israel of a $20 million compensation fund for the benefit of the families of those killed and injured on the flotilla. It also limits Hamas' presence on Turkish soil to political activity but not military or terrorist-related operations. It also requires the Turkish parliament to pass legislation voiding any Turkish legal proceedings against Israeli forces involved in the Mavi Marmara operation and bars future claims.
A sticking point over the years had been Turkey's demand that Israel lift its blockade of Gaza. On that score, the Turks relented, settling for the access to carry out humanitarian projects in the strip, with supplies from Turkey to be shipped through Israel's port of Ashdod. The agreement will be formally voted on by the Israeli inner security cabinet on Wednesday.
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