Turkey deal to have immense impact on Israel's economy, Netanyahu says

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 27.06.2016 10:29
Updated 27.06.2016 11:19
US State Secretary John Kerry talks with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu (L) during their meeting at Villa Taverna in Rome, Italy, 27 June 2016 (EPA)
US State Secretary John Kerry talks with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu (L) during their meeting at Villa Taverna in Rome, Italy, 27 June 2016 (EPA)

An agreement to normalise ties with Turkey after six years will have a positive impact on Israel's economy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

Speaking after meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome, Netanyahu said the agreement, announced by Israeli and Turkish officials on Sunday, was "an important step".

"It has also immense implications for the Israeli economy, and I use that word advisedly," he told reporters together with Kerry. Israeli officials have raised the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals once ties with Turkey were mended.

Kerry welcomed the agreement, saying, "We are obviously pleased in the administration. This is a step we wanted to see happen."

Turkey and Israel reached a reconciliation agreement late Sunday to normalize relations more than six years after Israeli troops stormed a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in international waters.

A senior Turkish official told Daily Sabah on Monday that Israel accepted a number of requests by the Turkish side, including Israeli compensation for families of those killed in the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla raid and Turkey's humanitarian presence in the embargoed Gaza Strip.

Under the deal, Turkey will be able to send humanitarian aid to Gaza as well as implement infrastructure projects including residential buildings and a 200-bed Turkish-Palestine Friendship Hospital in the area, the senior official said.

"However, contrary to claims, the deal has no provision regarding Hamas," the official added.

Ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv have been frayed since 2010 when six civilian ships in a humanitarian aid flotilla were attacked in international waters by Israeli forces.

The vessels were trying to transport humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Nine Turkish citizens and an American were killed and 30 other people were injured; one person died nearly four years later after being critically injured in the attack.

Turkey demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed in the attack, as well as the removal of Israel's blockade on Gaza in the aftermath of the attack.

In 2013, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to then-Turkish Premier and now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the attack.

In recent months, the two countries have been engaged in talks aiming at normalizing ties.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım is due to make a statement Monday regarding progress in negotiations with Israel.

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