Israel may meet Turkey's demands on aid flotilla raid
Israel has signaled it may compensate and apologize to families of some of the victims of its May aid flotilla raid, in comments during a covert meeting between Turkish and Israeli officials, the first high-level contact since the deadly attack. "There will be a second meeting if the Israeli side takes a step toward meeting our demands. We do not categorically dismiss meeting with Israeli officials at this level," a Turkish diplomat said. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Israeli Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who is known to have good relations with Turkey, met secretly in Brussels on Wednesday. The meeting was later disclosed by the Israeli media, and the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement criticizing Ben-Eliezer's move. Diplomatic sources said the meeting could provide a way out of the current situation, as ties between the two countries have been badly damaged by the May 31 raid, in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish peace activists in the attack on a Gaza-bound flotilla. "Davutoglu reminded Ben-Eliezer of Turkey's demands from Israel, including an apology, payment of compensation to families of those killed and wounded, an international inquiry, and an end to the blockade of Gaza," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told reporters yesterday. According to Ozugergin, the two officials discussed the present and future of Turkish-Israeli relations, adding that Ben-Eliezer assured Davutoglu that Turkey's demands would be conveyed to the Israeli government. "The point our ties have reached is not one we are happy with," said Ozugergin. "The meeting provided an opportunity to convey in person the steps we expect to see taken so that relations can be repaired. The reason why they requested this meeting might be to determine our expectations." Turkish officials have said Israel initiated the talks between Davutoglu and Ben-Eliezer. In related news, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos slammed Israel during his last day in office as the chairman of the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, saying the EU is completely behind Turkey on investigating the flotilla attack carried out by Israel in international waters. "We are committed to lifting the blockade on Gaza, and we are behind Turkey," he said.