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17 Dec, 2015 22:29

Turkey, Israel seek to mend ties, prepare diplomatic pact – sources

Turkey, Israel seek to mend ties, prepare diplomatic pact – sources

A preliminary "understanding" to normalize relations between Ankara and Jerusalem has been reached by top-level officials, anonymous sources reported. If signed, the pact will see ambassadors returning to both countries.

The deal was reached at a meeting in Switzerland, Reuters and AFP reported citing Israeli officials who spoke on condition of anonymity on Thursday.

A senior official in Jerusalem also told Haaretz that two Israeli officials, PM Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy in the contacts with Turkey and the current national security adviser and incoming Mossad chief, met with a Turkish diplomat in Zurich to finalize the principles of the agreement.

A senior Turkish official confirmed that the reconciliation pact had been reached, Turkish TRT World reported.

Its framework reportedly sees Israel paying $20 million in compensation to address the killing of Turkish citizens aboard a pro-Palestinian activist ship when it tried to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010. The incident in the Mediterranean led to the bad blood between the two nations.

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Ankara would then drop all legal claims against the Israeli Defense Forces in connection with the incident, with Turkey and Israel renewing their diplomatic relations and returning ambassadors.

The preliminary agreement also mentions Ankara expelling senior Istanbul-based Hamas member and limiting the group's operations in Turkey, Haaretz reported.

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Moreover, as a future step in normalizing relations, the countries will explore cooperation in the trade of natural resources, with Turkey reportedly set to buy "gas from Israel's offshore oil fields and the laying of a gas pipeline that would run via Turkey and through which Israel would export gas to Europe," the Israeli media reported.