Israel, Turkey normalize diplomatic relations after six years

ROME, June 27 (UPI) — Turkey and Israel reached an agreement to normalize diplomatic relations after six years, paving the way for mutually beneficial energy deals.

The agreement, confirmed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, will end frosty relations between the two countries since an Israeli raid in 2010 on Turkish ships defying an Israeli blockade to reach Hamas-controlled Gaza. Ten people were killed in the attack on the Mavi Marmara and other vessels in the flotilla.

As part of the rapprochement, Israel will compensate Turkey $20 million to settle claims in the incident, and Turkey dropped its demand for a lifting of the embargo on Gaza.

The deal also opens the two countries to multi-billion dollar natural gas contracts; Israel has natural gas to sell, and Turkey, as a buyer, seeks to reduce its reliance on Russia.

A restoration of ties also offers each country wider regional support as both have controversial interior policies criticized by the international community.

Turkey was once a close ally of Israel, but the 2010 attack prompted the removal of ambassador from each country. Netanyahu apologized in 2013, citing “operational mistakes.”

Netanyahu, speaking in Rome at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Italy, where he met with Secretary of State John Kerry, said the deal has “immense implications for the Israeli economy.” Kerry added the United States is “obviously pleased” with the deal.

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