Netanyahu defends ‘strategic’ Israel-Turkey agreement; Critics slam ‘national humiliation’

by WorldTribune Staff, June 27, 2016

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is stressing the “strategic importance” of Israel’s agreement to normalize relations with Turkey.

After meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Binaldi Yildirim in Rome on June 27 to sign the reconciliation accord, Netanyahu pointed to the deal’s strategic value for Israel’s security, economy and energy sector.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“The agreement allows humanitarian treatment for the Gaza Strip subject to security arrangements and that’s in Israel’s interest,” Netanyahu said. “In addition, the agreement prevents Hamas terror activities, political and military, on Turkish soil and that includes collecting money.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Israel will transfer $20 million for the families of those killed in the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010 to a Turkish humanitarian fund. In exchange, the Turkish government will cancel the lawsuit it filed against the IDF in an Istanbul court.

Former Israeli official Gideon Sa’ar blasted the $20 million transfer agreement: “Israel should pay Turkey compensation for the Marmara? I hope the reports are not true. But if they are – this is a national humiliation and an invitation to Israel’s haters to launch more flotillas and more libels.”

Netanyahu added that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has instructed Ankara’s security agencies to assist in returning Israelis who are captive or missing and in the hands of Hamas.

Israel withdrew its demand that senior Hamas commanders be exiled from Turkey in return for Ankara’s pledge that Hamas’s delegation in Turkey will not be involved in terror against Israel.

Netanyahu said the accord also requires Turkey “to help Israel join international organizations in which Turkey is already a member.”

“The agreement creates an opening for economic and energy cooperation including the topic of gas, which holds the possibility of strengthening the Israeli economy with vast amounts of capital. The Leviathan field can supply gas needs for Egypt and also for Turkey and from there to Europe,” Netanyahu said.

Under the agreement, ambassadors will be returned to the two countries, who are now committed not to work against each other in international organizations. The accord will include joint military exercises, and investments in energy and defense.