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April 8, 2013 9:31 am

Turkish Leaders Make New Demands of Israel Before Normalization

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: World Economic Forum.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu outlined further demands on Israel before Turkey would normalize relations with the country during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday.

“All of the embargoes [on Gaza] should be lifted once and for all,” Davutoglu said, the Wall Street Journal reported. “That diplomacy will continue in the future, and I hope and pray the processes will be completed.”

Israel maintains a naval blockade on Gaza, which is controlled by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, in order to prevent rockets and other military materials from entering the region and being used against Israeli civilians. The United Nations, in the 2010 Palmer report, has ruled that the Gaza naval blockade is legal under international law.

Last month, during U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for Israel’s actions during the 2010 Gaza Flotilla incident, which left eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish-American dead after those militants attacked Israeli soldiers aboard the Mavi Marmara.

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U.S. officials are concerned that Turkey, by calling for increased demands on Israel, will delay or stall normalization between the two countries.

“It is not for the United States to set conditions or terms,” Kerry said, the Wall Street Journal reported. “We have said, and we say again: we would like to see the relationship…get back on track in its full measure.”

While Israel and Turkey enjoyed decades of close relations under Turkey’s secular rulers, Erdogan and his conservative Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) has increasingly been critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians since coming to power in 2003. This has included closer relations with the Gaza-based terror group Hamas. Erdogan has said he plans to visit Gaza in the upcoming weeks.

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