Al Monitor: Following US mediation, personally led by President Barack Obama during his visit to the region, Israel and Turkey have finally renormalized their diplomatic relations.
This new Israeli-Turkish agreement brought to mind the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla, where nine Turkish activists on board were killed on May 31, 2010. This attack was what pushed Israel to ease its blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Hamas welcomed Israel’s apology, in the hope that Turkey would continue with its pressure to further ease the blockade.
The head of Hamas’ foreign relations department, Bassem Naim, said in an interview with Al-Monitor, that “this apology represents a major milestone in the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict in the region, since it is the first time Israel has offered an apology of this kind.
“Israel’s crimes against humanity can no longer be overlooked in light of the emergence of a powerful and respectable state such as Turkey, whose new diplomacy is based on solid ground,” he added.
Turkey had imposed three conditions on Israel as a prerequisite to exchanging ambassadors and normalizing relations between the countries. First, Israel must offer an apology, compensate the victims’ families and lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
It should be noted that Israel has maintained economic constraints on the Gaza Strip by shutting the commercial crossing of Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom), after militants in Gaza recently fired rockets at Israeli towns. Israel has also restricted fishing areas in the Mediterranean, violating the stipulations of the Oslo Accords in this regard. Additionally, movement through the Erez crossing has been limited.
According to Naim, Israel will try to evade Turkey’s condition of lifting the blockade on Gaza by misleading the public and Turkey, claiming that it has [already] been allowing goods to enter the area freely.