Turkey's Erdogan: Warming of Ties With Israel Would Benefit Entire Region

Turkish president reiterates that compensation for Gaza flotilla, lifting of Gaza blockade are conditions for normalization.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media in Ankara, Turkey, Dec. 10, 2015.
AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled a possible warming of relations with Israel, saying the entire region would have much to gain from normalized ties.

Relations between former allies Turkey and Israel broke down in 2010 after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla killed nine Turkish citizens. Turkey has become the strongest critic of Israeli actions in Gaza.

Israel apologized to Turkey for the deaths and agreed to compensate the victims' families under a U.S.-brokered arrangement in 2013. But efforts to restore ties faltered amid new Israeli action in Gaza.

The Daily Sabah news site cited Erdogan as reiterating three preconditions for the thaw between the two countries – an apology for the flotilla raid, compensation to the victims' families and the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Only the first condition has been met, Erdogan reportedly noted. 

"I already said that once the compensation and the embargo problems were resolved, normalization process may start," the Turkish president was cited as telling reporters on a flight back from Turkmenistan on Sunday. 

"This normalization process would be good for us, Israel, Palestine and the entire region," he said. "The region definitely needs this. I don't believe the Israeli public is pleased with the current state of relations. We need to consider the interests of the people of the region and introduce peace."

Last year, Erdogan spoke out strongly against Israel's operations in Gaza, accusing it of committing genocide and "barbarism surpassing Hitler."