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February 13, 2014 12:39 pm

Erdogan’s Demand to Lift Gaza Blockade ‘Not Under Consideration’ by Israel

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: World Economic Forum. Israel clarified on Wednesday that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s demand to lift the sea blockade on the Gaza Strip in exchange for normalizing relations between the countries “is not under consideration,” Israel Hayom reported.

Earlier this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the two sides were close to renewing ties and emphasized that “there is a new attitude… and we can say that most of the disagreements have been removed in the discussions with Israel.”

An Israeli government source said that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who in the past had opposed apologizing to Turkey for the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident and criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for doing so in a phone call last year, led the latest talks with Turkey aimed at ending the diplomatic crisis and normalizing relations. Lieberman explained recently that, with the apology already issued, he was now trying to usher in a complete normalization of relations, which would include returning ambassadors and dropping all legal proceedings against Israel, while assuring there would be no further lawsuits filed against Israeli military officers or government officials.

Israeli-Turkish relations have been strained since the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010. Israeli naval commandos were met with violence aboard the ship, and killed nine Turkish militants in the ensuing clash.

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