After years of delays, Israel may open offices in the Brussels headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which advised Israel it may credential Israeli representatives, as reported in Israeli media, citing Israeli Foreign Ministry sources.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed during a weekly Likud ministers meeting on Wednesday that the decision to allow Israel to open the offices came after Turkey rescinded a veto imposed over recent years against any Israeli activity with NATO.
After the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in May 2010, in which nine Turkish civilians were killed on a ship in international waters trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, Turkey instituted sanctions against Israel, including constraints on Israeli activity with NATO. Following the Mavi Marmara incident, NATO member Turkey announced that it opposed any collaboration between NATO and Israel, especially in military matters.
In September 2011, then Foreign Minister and current Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told the media that Turkey had succeeded in blocking an Israeli attempt to open an office at the NATO headquarters. "Israel recently made an attempt to open an office at NATO [headquarters] in Brussels. We said we would veto this attempt, and the issue was not even put on the agenda," he said.
The current move represents a significant upgrade for Israel's ties to the 28-nation NATO alliance. Israel is currently a partner in NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, along with six other countries in the Mediterranean: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Mauritania and Morocco.
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz recently said that Turkey and Israel have reached agreement on 90 percent of issues, and were headed towards reconciliation. The Times of Israel newspaper reported that agreement was reached on building a seaport for the Gaza Strip, however, this point was later denied by Steinitz's office. Steinitz is known to be close to PM Netanyahu.
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