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‘Turkey sees no normalisation of Israel ties without end to Gaza blockade’

By Reuters - Dec 28,2015 - Last updated at Dec 28,2015

A Palestinian places a candle on a symbolic coffin during a rally to pay tribute to Palestinians who organisers said were killed recently by Israeli troops, on Christmas day, on Friday, in Gaza City (Reuters photo)

ANKARA — Turkey sees no normalisation in ties with Israel unless its conditions for ending the Gaza blockade and compensation for the deaths of 10 Turkish activists in 2010 are met, a presidential spokesman said on Monday.

Relations between Turkey and Israel soured when the activists were killed in a raid by Israeli commandos on a Turkish boat, the Mavi Marmara, which was trying to breach the blockade.

Expectations of a breakthrough were intensified after senior officials met this month to try to repair ties. The talks have raised hopes of progress in negotiations to import Israeli natural gas, particularly since Turkey's relationship with major energy producer Russia has worsened over Syria.

But comments from Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin suggest Turkey may be trying to play tough in the negotiations.

"Turkey — Israel relations will not normalise until Israel realises the three conditions. We have not given up on these," Kalin said at a regular news conference.

Ankara wants an apology for the Mavi Marmara killings, and compensation for families. It also wants Israel to end the blockade of Palestinians living in Gaza, seen as a sticking point in the talks.

"Turkey will continue to play its role until a two-state solution is reached, and the Palestinian people have their own state. There cannot be permanent peace in the region until the Palestinian problem is solved," Kalin told reporters in Ankara.


Asked to respond to the remarks from Ankara, an Israeli official declined to discuss Gaza policy, saying only: "We will not be conducting negotiations through the media."

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