In a move that outraged a broad contingent of the pro-Israel community, last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regret over his country's involvement in the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, telling Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Israel would compensate the families of the nine Turkish activists who perished aboard the vessel.
Haartez reported Tuesday that Turkish sources claim Israel is now slated pay their country as much as "tens of millions of dollars" in compensation. While this may seem like a victory for Turkey, pro-Palestinian activists might not want to start celebrating just yet, as Israel has that Turkey drops all charges filed against the state of Israel and its military officers.
According to Haaretz, Turkish sources said that the compensation payment was the “simplest clause in all mediation efforts between the sides, but it is possible that it now may be made more complex, as Israel is demanding the cancellation of all charges filed against Israeli officers, and of the legal proceedings that had begun against them."
Further, "Turkey can undertake not to submit any charges against Israelis, but it is not legally possible [for it to] to cancel private proceedings that have already begun. The only thing is to try to persuade their families to withdraw their claims, but there is no way to force them to do so.”
High-level diplomatic contact between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Israelis Justice Minister Tzipi Livni began Monday to discuss the establishment of a joint committee that will determine the terms of Israel's compensation.
Originally, Turkey's official position was that Israel must apologize for what it characterized as a "deliberate attack" on the flotilla, but by June 2011, Erdogan agreed to a more soft-line approach in which Israel would admit that the "the killings and wounding aboard the Mavi Marmara were not carried out intentionally."
This narrative seems in line with Netanyahu's apology, in which he said he regretted any "operational error" on the part of Israel in the incident.
The Mavi Marmara, part of a 6-ship flotilla organized by the “Free Gaza Movement,” sought to break the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, allegedly to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians. Despite the flotilla activists' claims, however, a cache of weapons including knives, clubs, slingshots, bulletproof vests, gas masks and night vision goggles was actually also found on board.
When Israeli officers boarded the ship for a routine weapons inspection, they were ambushed and a clash ensued, leaving eight Turks and one Turkish-American dead. Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman has maintained that the violence against the Israeli soldiers was premeditated, given that weapons, including pistols, were found on board. Israel stated that the naval forces "found weapons prepared in advance and used against our forces."
While Netanyahu may have diplomatic reasons for issuing remuneration to Turkish families over the incident, some believe this only displays capitulation on the part of Israel, and further rewards the Palestinians, however nefarious their or their proxies behavior may be.