Kerry urges Turkey, Israel to take steps to normalizing ties

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry speaks during a news conference in Istanbul Credit: Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry speaks during a news conference in Istanbul
Credit: Reuters

Secretary of State John Kerry urged Turkey and Israel on Sunday to restore full relations, calling this vital to regional stability, but said it was not up to Washington to dictate the conditions of rapprochement.

An Israeli-Turkish reconciliation could improve regional coordination to contain spillover from the Syrian civil war and ease Israel’s diplomatic isolation in the Middle East as it faces the challenge of Iran’s nuclear program.

Kerry said it was imperative for Israel to honor its commitment to pay compensation to the families of those who were killed by Israeli marines aboard a Turkish vessel trying to break a naval blockade on Gaza in 2010, and for both countries to return their ambassadors.

He was speaking in Istanbul some two weeks after President Barack Obama brokered a thaw between Turkey and Israel, whose relations were frozen by the killing of nine Turkish citizens in that raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

“With respect to the Israel-Turkey track, it is not for the United States to be setting conditions or terms,” Kerry told reporters alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

“We would like to see this relationship that is important to stability in the Middle East, critical to the peace process itself, we would like to see this relationship get back on track in its full measure,” he said.

“To be back on track in its full measure it is imperative that the compensation component of the agreement be fulfilled, that the ambassadors be returned and that full relationship be embraced, but it’s not up to us to discuss the timing.”

Israel on March 22 bowed to a long-standing demand by Ankara, once its close strategic partner, to apologize formally for the deaths aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara.

It was boarded by Israeli marines who had intercepted the flotilla challenging Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he had agreed to conclude an agreement on compensation and that he and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan agreed to normalize ties, including re-installing their respective ambassadors.

An Israeli delegation is expected to arrive in Turkey this week to begin discussing the details of the compensation agreement. Neither country has said, however, when their ambassadors would go back.

Despite Obama’s having pulled off a diplomatic coup – a three-way telephone call with the Israeli and Turkish prime ministers, who had not spoken since 2011, some officials in Washington are worried Turkey might be backtracking on the deal.

Hours after the Israeli apology, large billboard posters sanctioned by Turkey’s ruling party mayor, appeared in the Turkish capital showing a glum-looking Netanyahu next to a glowing picture of Erdogan, suggesting some in Ankara were taking a triumphalist tone.

Erdogan then told a rally broadcast live on television that the apology signaled Turkey’s growing regional clout.

But Kerry said Turkey had responded “sensitively” and “thoughtfully” to the apology. “They have taken steps to try to prevent any sense of triumphalism. It has not come from the government. In fact, there has been limited response by the government itself and I think it’s important for everybody to take note of that,” Kerry said.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.