During the afternoon of June 27, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally announced a reconciliation deal with Turkey, ending a six-year cut in diplomatic ties.
“Israel has made an important strategic agreement in terms of security, regional stability, and the Israeli economy,” Netanyahu said during the afternoon of June 27 in Rome.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim made an announcement simultaneously in Ankara. The agreement will be signed on June 28 in Jerusalem and in Ankara.
Israeli news sources, citing an unnamed senior Israeli official involved in the negotiations, reported that an agreement had been reached in Rome on June 26.
“I don’t run the country according to tweets or headlines, but according to what is good for the country’s security, economy and interests,” Netanyahu said. “This agreement is important and isn’t devoid of criticism. Gas and the Israeli economy will be promoted by the agreement. This doesn’t mean we’ve started a honeymoon period, and I’m not trying to embellish [the agreement]. But our critical interests are promoted by this deal.”
Relations between Israel and Turkey broke down in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, when Israeli commandos boarded and killed nine Turkish citizens in fights on a boat that was attempting to break Israel’s Gaza blockade.
Netanyahu enumerated the seven main points of the agreement, which include protecting the commanders and fighters of the Israel Defense Forces from criminal and civil charges; maintaining the naval blockade of Gaza, and assistance from Turkey in repatriating two Israeli citizens and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers being held by Hamas in Gaza.
Netanyahu also said that the agreement “opens the door to cooperation on economic and energy issues,” including selling natural gas to Turkey.
The family of Hadar Goldin, one of the soldiers whose body is being held by Hamas in Gaza, rejected the deal, saying that Netanyahu acted in opposition to his promises that the deal would return their son’s body and that of Oron Shaul home. Both soldiers were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when Israel waged war against Hamas in Gaza.