Turkey has refused financial compensation over the Mavi Mara incident. The reason being that Israel has offered compensation in the form of an ex-gratia payment and not for redressing a wrongful act, according to a senior Turkish government official.
“In our first meeting [the Israelis] showed no opposition to this. But in the second meeting, they intended to give an ex gratia payment as a form of reparation because they fear compensation [as a result of their wrongful act] will set an example for other cases, which is not a concern to us,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told Ankara bureau chiefs late on July 23. Arınç is leading a Turkish team composed of diplomats and legal experts negotiating the compensation issue with the Israeli government.
Israel formally apologized to Turkey on March 22 over the killing of nine Turkish citizens on board the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara vessel in 2010. It also agreed to redress the damages and loss of life and promised to lift an embargo imposed on the Gaza Strip. However, compensation talks were suspended after the parties held three meetings in April and in May with unconfirmed reports that the primary reason was the disagreement over the amount of money.
“The amount of money is not the problem,” Arınç said. “There are two problematic areas. The first one is that Israel should accept that it’s paying this money as a result of its wrongful act. Nothing less than this will be accepted. And second, we are waiting for them to realize our third condition of cooperating with Turkey in making life conditions easier for Palestinians. We are not talking about the amount of money as our first two conditions have not been met,” he added.
“We are not going to rush for the money. Israel has to accept its wrongful act. Otherwise we will not say ‘yes’ to them,” he said, adding that the amount of money to be given to the families of the victims will be automatically calculated in accordance with criteria.
If an agreement can be reached between Turkey and Israel, it will be brought to Parliament as an international agreement and will have an effect on ongoing cases opened against the Israeli state by the victims’ families. “There cannot be two separate legal attempts to seek compensation. If the governments agree, it will cover [the victims’] demand for compensation as well.”