02:07 GMT03 April 2020
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    Israel and Turkey made some progress in the normalization of relations but will not return to its previous level, Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Zeev Elkin told Sputnik in an interview.

    TEL AVIV (Sputnik) — Relations between Israel and Turkey deteriorated after the Freedom Flotilla incident in 2010, when a convoy of six ships, including one under Turkey's flag, tried to approach the Gaza Strip with humanitarian aid and activists on board. The flotilla was blocked and stormed by Israeli forces, resulting in the deaths of eight Turkish citizens.

    "There is progress, but it is a long way to go to the finish line. In any case, Israel is not consoling itself with the hope of establishing some especially close…relations with Turkey. Turkey behaves in a very unstable manner toward Israel. Therefore, if we would be able to normalize the situation, it would be good, but we do not expect any particularly close relations," Elkin said.

    The interview comes ahead of Elkin's visit to Moscow, where he will be accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 7.

    Elkin added that Russia expressed no objections toward Israeli-Turkish normalization talks.

    "I do not think that Russia has any objections about the potential normalization between Israel and Turkey. In principle, Russia is always for maximum de-escalation in the Middle East, but, of course, both Russia and Israel are well aware that we are not talking about the restoration of former intimate relationship between Israel and Turkey, should the agreement be signed. I cannot tell when this [signing] will happen yet," he said.

    In late March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that his country was ready to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel. The following month, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that the bilateral talks on normalizing the relations reached certain progress.


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