Friday, July 11

Israel-Turkey ties will not normalise unless Gaza assault stops

PM: Israel-Turkey ties will not normalise unless Gaza assault stops
Published today 02:03
ANKARA (AFP) -- Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday
 ties with Israel would not return to normal unless it ceased its deadly
 offensive on the Gaza Strip.

"You will first stop this oppression. If not, it is not possible to realise normalization 
between Turkey and Israel," Erdogan said in the central Anatolian city of Yozgat after a 
dinner breaking the daily Ramadan fast.

Relations between once-regional allies Israel and Turkey hit an all-time low when 10 
Turkish activists died in a 2010 maritime assault by Israeli commandos on Gaza-bound
 ship Mavi Marmara in international waters.

The Israeli assault provoked a sharp response from Ankara, which expelled the
 Israeli ambassador, demanded a formal apology, compensation for the victims, and an
 end to the blockade on Gaza -- which is ruled by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group.

Israel and Turkey have been locked in talks for more than a year over compensation,
 after Israel extended a formal apology to Ankara in a breakthrough brokered by US 
President Barack Obama.

Erdogan, a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, said Thursday that Turkey's 
first two conditions -- apology and compensation -- appeared to have been fulfilled.

But he said deadly raids on Gaza showed that Israel had no intention of complying
 with Ankara's third condition: to end the blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

"Then how can we normalize (ties) with you?" said the premier, who is the clear
 favorite for an August presidential election.

Erdogan also lashed out at Israel's "disproportionate use of force against innocent" 
Palestinians, calling on the world and the United Nations to stop the assault.

He spoke on the phone with President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid
 Mashaal about the Israeli action in Gaza, as well as on intra-Palestinian unity, 
an official from his office told AFP.

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