Israel and Turkey Formalize Landmark Reconciliation Pact

Senior diplomats sign the agreement in each respective capital, a day after the deal was announced, ending six years of crisis between the two Mediterranean nations.

AP

Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold signed the reconciliation agreement with Turkey on Tuesday. The ceremony, held at the ministry headquarters in Jerusalem, was given a low-profile and held without the presence of the media.

A parallel ceremony was held in Ankara, where the agreement was signed by outgoing Undersecretary for foreign affairs, Feridun Hadi Sinirlioğlu, who headed the Turkish negotiating team with Israel.

The agreement, announced on Monday, renormalizes diplomatic relations between the two countries and ends a six-year crisis that erupted following the death of nine Turkish civilians during a raid by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza Strip, in May 2010.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday spoke on the phone with Cypriot president Nicos Anastasides and updated him on the agreement with Turkey. Netanyahu told Anastasides that the diplomatic move will not come at the expense of Israel's relations with Cyprus.

On Monday, Netanyahu said that the agreement is of "strategic importance to Israel," and added that on the backdrop of the upheavals in the Middle East, he wanted to "create islands of stability" around Israel. Netanyahu said that "the rift between us didn't benefit our shared interests and had prevented us from cooperating on important things."

Following the announcing of the agreement, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country "will continue to object to Israel's unlawful practices in Jerusalem and Masjid al-Aqsa," referring to the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.

The deal will be put to a security cabinet vote on Wednesday. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have said they would vote against it.

But the agreement is expected to be passed by a majority including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud ministers Yuval Steinitz, Gilad Erdan and Yisrael Katz, Interior Minister Arye Dery, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Housing Minister Yoav Galant.

Once approved by the security cabinet, the deal will be submitted to parliament, and take effect 14 days later.