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Israel must do more to normalize ties with Turkey

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Turkey’s foreign minister says there has been “some progress” in improving Turkish-Israeli relations but Israel has not yet fulfilled all conditions for normalizing ties.

Relations between the former allies soured dramatically after Israeli commandos stormed a pro-Palestinian ship trying to breach a blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010. The raid killed eight Turks and one Turkish-American.

Under a U.S.-brokered rapprochement in March, Israel apologized to Turkey for the deaths and agreed to pay compensation.

But Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that there are three conditions that are important to Turkey and only one has been met.

Turkey’s demand for an Israeli apology “was fulfilled,” he said.

A second is compensation where “there is progress” and negotiations are continuing, Davutoglu said.

“We hope this will be concluded,” he said.

The third condition is an end to Israeli restrictions “against Palestine,” he said.

An after-hours call to Israel’s U.N. Mission seeking comment late Wednesday was not immediately returned.

Hamas-run Gaza has been subject to an Israeli blockade on the entry of many items for years.

Davutoglu said Turkey is very concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories, especially in Gaza, following recent developments in Egypt.

The Egyptian border has recently closed the border with Gaza on several occasions and the army has destroyed smuggling tunnels to Gaza, compounding supply shortages from the Israeli blockade.

“We will be following, and we will hope, that all these three conditions will be met and the nromalization process can go ahead,” Davutoglu said.

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