Israel-Turkey reconciliation talks hit impasse over scope of compensation 28May13 May 28, 2013

Haaretz    -    27 May 2013

2899995654Reconciliation talks between Israel and Turkey have reached an impasse over the sum Israel is to pay in compensation to the families of the Turkish nationals killed and wounded in the May 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, a senior official in Jerusalem said Monday.

Despite three rounds of talks, the gaps remain very wide, he said.

After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on March 22 for the killing of nine Turkish nationals by Israel Defense Forces soldiers during the raid on the Mavi Marmara, the two countries began talks to come to a compensation arrangement and to normalize ties. The first round of talks took place in Ankara on April 22, while the second took place in Jerusalem on May 6.

At the end of the Jerusalem meeting, the parties issued a communiqué, saying that there was a draft agreement but that “several clarifications regarding a few issues,” were still needed. The clarifications, it emerged, related to the central issue of how much compensation Israel would pay.

Jerusalem had hoped that the Turks would come to a final agreement before Erdogan visited the White House on May 16, given that U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry had mediated between the two sides personally. The Americans even passed messages to Ankara indicating that they wanted to see this issue wrapped up expeditiously.

On May 15, the day before the Erdogan-Obama meeting, Turkish Foreign Ministry Director-General Feridun Sinirlioğlu and the prime minister’s envoy to the talks with Turkey, Joseph Ciechanover, met in Washington. The senior Israeli official noted that those talks made no progress. Since then, there have been telephone contacts between the two sides, but no breakthrough.

“Most of the details of the agreement, including the matter of returning ambassadors, are finalized, except for the level of compensation,” said the Israeli official. “The Turks are demanding much higher sums than what Israel is prepared to pay, and this is still under discussion.”

The official refused to cite specific sums each party had discussed during the talks. Haaretz, however, has learned that while Israel is prepared to pay $100,000 to each family, the Turks are demanding $1,000,000 per family.

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