22:07 GMT17 February 2020
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    Turkey is ready to normalize its ties with Israel only if Jerusalem abandons its blockade of the Gaza Strip, Ibrahim Kalin, spokesperson for Turkish president, said.

    Israel and Turkey were strategic partners in the past, but then relations deteriorated as Ankara shifted its foreign policy from European integration to strengthening its position in the Arab world.

    Tensions reached their peak over the incident with the so-called Freedom Flotilla in 2010. Israeli commandos intercepted a group of ships heading to breach the Gaza blockade. Nine Turkish nationals were killed. In order to normalize relations, Ankara has demanded from Israel an apology and financial compensation for the families of those killed in the incident. Turkey also urged Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza.

    "Turkey — Israel relations will not normalize until Israel realizes the three conditions. We have not given up on these," Kalin told journalists.

    The first condition, an official apology, has been fulfilled. The second condition will be to pay compensation, and this has still not yet been agreed upon. The third condition is lifting of the blockade of Palestinians living in Gaza, he explained.

    Turkey will not abandon these conditions and will not change them, Kalin reaffirmed.

    Earlier, Israeli media reported that Israel and Turkey had worked out a draft agreement on the normalization of their ties, including returning ambassadors and natural gas supplies. The breakthrough was reported to allegedly have taken place at a secret meeting in Switzerland. 


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