Turkey: Israel Normalization Would Require Ending Gaza Blockade

Israel Rules Out Ending Blockade, Hints at Crackdown

by Jason Ditz, March 24, 2013

Friday’s belated Israeli apology for killing nine aid workers aboard the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara was being spun as the ticket to normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey, and Israeli officials have suggested they considered this a goal, with an eye on Syria.

Yet the indications are that it isn’t so simple, with comments from both sides suggesting that the status of the Gaza Strip is going to continue to strain the relationship of the two nations going forward.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that the full normalization of relations with Israel would require not only compensation for victims of the Mavi Marmara attack, but a commitment to continue easing the blockade of the Gaza Strip, something Israel promised already after the November war.

That seems unlikely, as Israeli officials not only insisted that there was no commitment to any further relaxation of the Gaza blockade, adding that there was a possibility of a further crackdown on the strip.

That already seems to be happening, with Israel severely restricting fishing over the past few days. As for compensation, Israeli officials say they will support a deal if Turkey promises not to prosecute any Israeli soldiers for the killings.

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