AJC Praises U.S.-Facilitated Restoration of Israel-Turkey Relations

March 22, 2013 – New York – AJC welcomed today’s announcement that Israel and Turkey will restore diplomatic relations and take other steps to mend their ties. The breakthrough came in a phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, facilitated by President Obama shortly before he left Israel for Jordan.

“We are delighted that, with the invaluable assistance of President Obama, Turkey and Israel, which have traditionally had long-standing and vibrant bilateral ties, have found a way to mend their differences and move forward in a positive direction,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "This is good news for the region and far beyond."

During the phone call, Netanyahu and Erdogan agreed to normalize relations, including returning their ambassadors to their respective posts in Israel and Turkey. And Turkey announced that it would cancel legal action against Israeli soldiers.

Netanyahu “made it clear that the tragic results regarding the Mavi Marmara were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life,” according to a statement from his office. He “apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation.”

Erdogan, in his statement, called “regrettable” the recent deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel, and “accepted the apology.”

Tensions between the two countries escalated after Israeli commandos, in May 2010, stopped and boarded the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel that was attempting to break the internationally-sanctioned Israeli naval blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza.