Turkey denies deadlock in Turkey-Israel compensation talks
Ankara has denied that Turkey and Israel are at odds over compensation to be paid to the families of people killed during a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound ship, the Mavi Marmara, and that the reconciliation talks have reached a deadlock. A senior Turkish diplomat who spoke to Today's Zaman on condition of anonymity denied a report published in Haaretz which claimed that the Israel-Turkey reconciliation talks have hit an impasse over the scope of compensation. According to the report, the two countries were deadlocked over the compensation issue as Israel was prepared to pay $100,000 to each family, while Turkey demands that Israel pay $1 million to each family of the nine victims. Haaretz quoted a senior official in Jerusalem saying despite three rounds of talks, the divisions remain. The senior Israeli official also noted that talks between the two states over compensation have made no progress, adding that there has been telephone contact between the two sides but no breakthrough. The Turkish diplomat denied there was no progress in the talks, adding that the meetings with the two sides were still going on in a positive manner in order to reach a decision. "Since the very beginning of the compensation talks, there were reports claiming that Turkey and Israel disagree over the amount to be paid to the families of the victims. We give no attention to such negative reports," said the diplomat. The reports claimed that if Israel had been willing to pay $1 million, the Turks would have demanded $10 million. "The Turks are demanding much higher sums than what Israel is prepared to pay, and this is still under discussion," said the Israeli official. However, the Turkish diplomat said the numbers stated for the amount to be paid do not reflect the truth. Relations between Turkey and Israel -- countries that once enjoyed solid ties at all levels -- worsened in May of 2010 and have remained strained since Israeli naval commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, a ship carrying humanitarian aid attempting to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza, killing eight Turkish civilians and one Turkish-American. In order to end a major rift between the two former allies, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March offered an apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara raid. Compensation is one of three demands Ankara made of Tel Aviv. The other two were an apology for raid and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. The first compensation talks between the former allies were held in late April when an Israeli delegation of high-ranking officials, led by Yaakov Amidror, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, came to Ankara. In early May, a Turkish delegation traveled to Israel for the second round of talks to negotiate the compensation issue. This was the first time a high-level Turkish delegation had visited Israel in two years, since ties between the countries deteriorated after the Mavi Marmara incident. Following the meeting in Ankara, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that Turkey and Israel had agreed on the text that determined the parameters of the compensation.