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Minister: Israel-Turkey Normalization Near Completion | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Employees from a Turkish-owned company in Israel protest against the tensions between the two countries outside the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv, December 28, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias)

Tel Aviv–Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz announced that almost 90 percent of issues have been agreed on between Israel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Political sources in Tel Aviv revealed that this optimism comes after Israel withdrew its condition of closing Hamas offices in Istanbul, in return for Turkey promising that no Hamas key officials run the offices and that those offices won’t be used in planning of armed operations against Israel.

Ankara previously refused Israel’s allegations of existence of Hamas offices on its territories. Yet, on Thursday night, Israel’s Channel 10 broadcast footage of its defense reporter Alon Ben David in front of these offices.

During the last round of negotiations, Turkey agreed on restricting the movement of Hamas personnel on its land as Israel promised to gradually alleviate the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. Also, it was agreed that Turkey will be granted a prime position in running the reconstruction projects of Gaza.

Minister Steinitz said that after years of rupture of diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey, both countries are close on rebuilding relations and exchanging ambassadors.

Steinitz expected the deal to be completed by Hebrew Easter, on April 22, but an internal crisis in Turkey and the formation of a new cabinet caused the deal to be held up.

Steinitz refused to go into details but remarked that the deal would pave the way to exporting Israel’s natural gas to Turkey. He mentioned that Israel has a huge economic benefit in closing the deal with Turkey.

Observers expect the deal to be completed within the upcoming two weeks.