Israel’s security cabinet has approved an agreement with Turkey that will allow the two countries to restore full diplomatic relations following a six-year hiatus, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a Wednesday statement, according to Anadolu Agency.
Government ministers approved the Israel-Turkey reconciliation deal on Wednesday afternoon following a heated four-hour cabinet discussion on a deal which was already signed on Tuesday.
Seven members of the security cabinet voted in favor of the agreement with Turkey, Israel radio reported, while it was opposed by As expected, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman opposed the agreement. Prior to the cabinet discussions, Bennett and Shaked exited their vehicles to speak to the families of IDF officer Hadar Goldin, IDF soldier Oron Shaul and Israeli citizen Avra Mangisto directly.
Following the agreement’s approval, Minister Bennett crticized the deal on the grounds that it would encourage others to seek to harm Israel. “I don’t see other states apologizing to those who have attacked them. This sets a precedent that we pay compensation to those who harm us. It could encourage others to harm us.”
Outside the government offices, the family of Sgt. Oron Shaul, who was killed and captured by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge, protested against signing of the agreement.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said, “My heart goes out to the Goldin, Shaul, and Mangisto families. I promised them I would go to the cabinet and ask the difficult questions before making my decision and I did this. We must do a lot more to bring them home which is why I demanded that a cabinet meeting be held to discuss significantly worsening the conditions of Hamas prisoners.”
The Goldin family expressed their outrage at the cabinet’s decision: “We deeply regret the decision to sign an agreement with Turkey without including the return of Hadar and Oron, despite what was promised to us by the prime minister.”
Attacking the Netanyahu, the family added, “This agreement was lead by the prime minister and was not democratic. It encroaches on the basic values of the IDF and the State of Israel.”
On Wednesday, the Goldin family circulated an impassioned letter among all the cabinet ministers urging them not to ratify the agreement which is devoid of a Turkish commitment to securing the release of the missing boys from Hamas’ grasp.
After months of talks, the agreement was announced by Turkey and Israel on Monday and signed by the two countries’ foreign ministries one day later.
The deal calls for an exchange of ambassadors and stepped-up cooperation in several fields, including Israeli plans to export gas to European markets.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, for his part, praised the deal on Wednesday, saying it would also serve to ease the decade-long Israeli/Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip, going on to point out that Israel had agreed to allow Turkish humanitarian assistance to be delivered to Gaza via Israel’s port of Ashdod.
Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel were suspended in 2010 after Israeli forces raided a convoy of aid ships attempting to break the blockade of Gaza, killing nine Turkish activists.