Israel and Turkey Near Final Deal on Compensation for Gaza Flotilla Victims

After meeting in Jerusalem, Israeli and Turkish officials formulate draft agreement on criteria that determines eligibility for compensation, but actual amount for payment yet to be finalized.

Israel and Turkey are close to signing an agreement on compensation payment to the families of the victims of the Israel Defense Forces' 2010 raid on a Turkish-flagged aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip.

A second round of reconciliation talks between the two former allies took place Monday in Jerusalem, after which the Prime Minister’s Bureau announced that a draft agreement had been formulated “but a number of clarifications are needed on a few issues.”

Ankara's delegation to the talks, headed by Turkish Foreign Ministry Director General Feridun Sinirlioglu, arrived Monday morning for talks at the Foreign Ministry with Israel's National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and former Foreign Ministry Director General Yosef Ciechanover.

Officials in the Turkish Foreign Ministry said an agreement had been reached on the formulation of the criteria according to which eligibility for compensation would be determined. Other than the families of the nine Turkish victims, compensation will be paid to a few dozen Turkish nationals who were wounded during the Israel Navy’s takeover of the Mavi Marmara.

The deputy head of the Turkish delegation, Bulent Arinc, confirmed that an agreement had been reached on the eligibility criteria, but said that the amount for compensation has yet to be finalized.

A senior official in the Prime Minister’s Bureau in Jerusalem said that the parties were expected to reach a final agreement in the coming days. The Turks want to show progress in talks with Israel before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan goes to Washington on May 16.

It seems at this point that there will be no need for an additional round of talks and that the next meeting will be to sign the agreement. Immediately after the signing, the parties will set a date for the return of ambassadors to Ankara and Tel Aviv and on a number of other normalization steps between the two countries.

The negotiations for reconciliation between Turkey and Israel began in April, exactly a month after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and apologized for the fatal raid. During that conversation, which was endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama, the two prime ministers agreed to restore normal relations between their countries and return their ambassadors to each other's countries.