Ban welcomes return of normal relations between Israel and Turkey

A memorial at the Gaza seaport honouring nine Turkish activists who died trying to break Israel’s naval blockade in May 2010. Photo: IRIN/Erica Silverman

22 March 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the restoration of normal relations between Israel and Turkey, following the May 2010 incident in which nine sea-bound protesters were killed as they sought to breach Israel’s Gaza blockade to deliver humanitarian aid.

“Assisting Israel and Turkey in restoring their good relations had been a core objective of the Secretary-General’s efforts in the aftermath of the May 2010 flotilla incident,” Mr Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement released today.

“Today’s announcement is an important and hopeful signal for the stability of the region.”

According to media reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel apologized in a personal phone call to Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the deadly commando raid on the Turkish ship – the Mavi Marmara – that was part of a six-ship flotilla.

The move was reportedly brokered in part by United States President Barack Obama during his visit to the region this week. Officials from Israel and Turkey also said that diplomatic relations had been fully restored and that ambassadors would be reinstated.

In the May 2010 incident, the Mavi Marmara was intercepted in international waters by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), which subsequently opened fire, killing nine and injuring over 50 with live bullets, according to the UN-backed fact-finding mission tasked with shedding light on the incident.

In today’s statement, Mr. Ban also voiced appreciation for the role of President Obama in reaching what he described as a “positive outcome.”

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