Israel cabinet approves reconciliation deal with Turkey

Sunday 26/06/2016
Deal comes after six-year split

JERUSALEM - Israeli cabinet ministers on Wednesday approved a deal reached with Turkey at the weekend on normalising relations after years of acrimony over a deadly 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
The security cabinet approved the deal seven to three after four and a half hours of debate, giving it final Israeli government approval, a spokesman said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others have promoted its economic benefits, with talk of building a pipeline to Turkey to export Israeli gas, and the need to find allies in the turbulent Middle East.
But there have been objections over Israel agreeing to pay $20 million in compensation to families of the Turkish activists killed in the raid.
There were also allegations that the agreement does not do enough to push for the return of four Israelis missing in Gaza, two of them soldiers who have been declared dead and two of them civilians believed held alive by Hamas.
Turkey will be allowed to deliver aid to Palestinians in Gaza as part of the deal, but Netanyahu has stressed that Israel's blockade on the enclave will remain in place.
Turkey has been seeking to restore its clout in the region after a diplomatic crisis with Russia and other foreign policy difficulties.
Ankara said Tuesday that the two countries would begin the process of exchanging ambassadors this week. It was unclear if Tuesday night's attack at Istanbul airport that killed 41 people would affect the process.
Previously close relations between Israel and Turkey were downgraded significantly after Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on the six-ship flotilla in May 2010 as it tried to run the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Nine activists aboard the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara ferry were killed, with a 10th person later dying of his wounds.

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