Israel's Environment Minister Amir Peretz speaks on December 5 2013 in Istanbul
Israel's Environment Minister Amir Peretz speaks on December 5 2013 in Istanbul © Ozan Kose - AFP
Israel's Environment Minister Amir Peretz speaks on December 5 2013 in Istanbul
AFP
Last updated: December 5, 2013

Israeli minister on first Turkey visit since 2010 crisis

An Israeli cabinet minister was visiting Turkey on Thursday on the first such trip since the rupture of relations between the two former allies over a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla three years ago.

Environment Minister Amir Peretz is attending an international UN conference in Istanbul about pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.

Peretz is not however expected to meet his Turkish counterpart, a foreign ministry official told AFP, adding that it was not an official visit.

His trip follows a visit by an Israeli foreign ministry envoy to Istanbul last month for an energy conference.

Ties between Israel and Turkey hit an all-time low in May 2010 when Israeli commandos staged a pre-dawn raid on a flotilla of ships trying to taking aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, killing nine Turks.

The assault damaged relations between Israel and its once closest Muslim ally, with Ankara demanding a formal apology and compensation for the families of the victims.

In March this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised to NATO-member Turkey over the raid -- a breakthrough brokered by US President Barack Obama during his visit to the Jewish state.

Turkish and Israeli delegations held talks in April and May to discuss the terms of a compensation deal, which Ankara has laid down as a condition for the normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel.

Turkish officials said there was an agreement in principle between the parties to resolve the compensation matter but talks appear to have stalled.

Turkish media reports have speculated that Israel was not ready to pay as much as $1 million (around 800,000 euros) in damages for each victim, as demanded by Ankara.

A US newspaper report also claimed in October that Turkey had blown an Israeli spy ring working with Iranians on its soil to the authorities in Tehran, a claim vehemently rejected by Ankara.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Stay Connected
twitter icon Twitter 13,558 linkedin icon LinkedIn 463
facebook icon Facebook 87,173 google+ icon Google+ 272