Turkey should demand a biting sum of $1 billion from Israel as compensation for its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla ship in 2010, according to the chairman of the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH).
“Not only the martyrs, but also all of us, all participants [in the flotilla] including the injured and heavily injured will receive compensation. But we will receive a biting [sum of] compensation. A state sent its warships towards us in front of the whole world. The amount of compensation that should be given is not $1.5 million, but at least $1 billion,” Bülent Yıldırım, whose İHH led the 2010 humanitarian convoy, said while speaking at a conference organized by Muş Alparslan University on Wednesday.
Yıldırım's statements come as Turkish and Israeli officials are holding negotiations on the issue of how much Israel should pay the families of the Mavi Marmara victims.
The chairman also criticized Turkey for opening negotiations with Israel on the issue before the latter agreed to comply with Ankara's original demand to lift the blockade of Gaza. Yıldırım said that the lifting of the blockade has been put on the backburner due to pressure on Turkey from the US for a quick normalization of ties with Israel.
“Yes, Israel has apologized, but it should also lift the blockade; it has not lifted it. Instead Israel is offering small-scale compensation,” he remarked.
Turkish and Israeli officials have not yet agreed on an amount to be paid to the victims' families. There have been reports that Turkey is demanding that Israel pay $1 million to each family of all of the nine dead, while Israel is willing to pay only $100,000. Furthermore, Israel reportedly suggested paying the same amount paid by the Turkish military to the families of its fallen soldiers, TL 125,000, or around $70,000.
FM says money cannot compensate for martyrs' blood
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made remarks on the issue at the end of his visit to London, saying, “Neither the apology, nor compensation, nor the lifting of the blockade could be equal in value to our martyrs' blood.”
Davutoğlu said, however, that the apology and compensation are important in terms of protecting the rights of Turkish citizens. The foreign minister spoke during a press conference at the Turkish ambassador's residence in London after attending an international summit on Somalia.
“The apology has been made within the scope of the principles of international relations. The apologizing side has made this apology in order to both acknowledge and compensate for the crime it committed. When it pays compensation, it means that this is an action that it [Israel] could be held accountable for,” the minister said.
Davutoğlu has not confirmed whether or not a third round of compensation talks will be held. He reiterated that the two sides have come to an agreement on the “main principles” within which the amount of compensation will be determined.
A Turkish delegation was in Israel on Monday for the second round of talks to negotiate the compensation Israel will pay to the families of the victims of a 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid ship.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also stated on Tuesday in Ankara that there would be another round of talks in Turkey if the two sides fail to reach an agreement on how much Israel should pay. The first compensation talks between the former allies were held in late April, when an Israeli delegation of high-ranking officials, led by Yaakov Amidror, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visited Ankara. Officials from the Turkish Foreign Ministry have explained that a text was agreed at that time which sets the parameters for determining the amount of compensation in a timely manner.
The raid on the Mavi Marmara by Israeli naval commandos on May 31, 2010, killed eight Turkish civilians and one Turkish-American onboard the Gaza-bound aid ship. During the press conference in London, Davutoğlu also mentioned Turkey's contributions to the re-establishment of war-torn Somalia's security structure and the process of national reconciliation in the African country. He highlighted that Turkey has also announced a $10 million aid package for the Somali defense and security establishment.