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Erdogan: Israel must lift Gaza blockade for normalized ties

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February 12, 2014 | 10:25 am

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Feb. 11. Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Feb. 11. Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will not normalize relations with Israel until Israel completely lifts its blockade against Gaza.

Erdogan made the statement on Tuesday, according to the Andadolu Turkish news agency. It came two days after Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a television interview that his country and Israel are close to normalizing bilateral relations for the first time since the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

Israel has eased the blockade on goods entering and leaving Gaza, but has not entirely lifted it.

“About the negotiations, we have not reached any agreement,” Erdogan reportedly said.  “As long as the siege on Gaza isn’t lifted, it won’t happen. The siege must be lifted, and that must be part of the protocol, signed and agreed upon.”

The two sides also are still negotiating the amount of compensation that Israel will pay to the families of the victims of the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, though the sides have moved closer to an agreement, according to reports.

Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and then expelled Israel’s ambassador after the 2010 incident, in which Israeli troops killed nine Turkish nationals in clashes while trying to stop the Mavi Marmara from breaking Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last March, after which representatives of the countries met for reconciliation talks.

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