NEW YORK, June 27, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC hails today's announcement of restored diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, after a six-year hiatus. A formal document to that effect is expected to be signed shortly, with an exchange of ambassadors to follow.
Turkey, which, in 1949, was the first majority-Muslim nation to establish relations with the Jewish state, sharply downgraded ties in the aftermath of the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, when ten Turkish nationals on board a boat seeking to break Israel's legally-recognized blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza lost their lives resisting Israeli efforts to stop them.
"Israel and Turkey are natural allies in many ways," said AJC CEO David Harris. "They are anchors of the region. They share common threats and concerns. They have overlapping energy interests. They have complementary economies. Accordingly, cooperation is a far better alternative than conflict."
The first step toward rapprochement came in 2013, when Israel issued an apology for the deaths on the Mavi Marmara and agreed to compensate the families. Under today's agreement, Israel will maintain its defensive blockade of Gaza, but allow Turkey to send in humanitarian aid through the Israeli port of Ashdod, and build a power plant and a desalination plant in Gaza.
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee