Turkish parliament approves deal ending rift with Israel
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A Turkish flag flutters atop the Turkish embassy as an Israeli flag is seen nearby, in Tel Aviv, Israel June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo
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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's parliament approved a reconciliation agreement signed with Israel in June which has brought to an end a six-year rift between the two regional powers, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday.
Relations between the two countries crumbled after Israeli marines stormed a Turkish ship in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, killing 10 Turks on board.
Israel, which had already offered its apologies for the raid, agreed under the deal to pay out $20 million to the bereaved and wounded in return for Turkey dropping outstanding legal claims.
Both countries are to appoint ambassadors under an agreement which is partly driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals.
The accord, signed on June 28, was a rare rapprochement in the divided Middle East, also driven by mutual fears over growing security risks. Two weeks afterwards more than 240 people were killed in an attempted coup in Turkey.
Under the deal, the naval blockade of Gaza, which Ankara had wanted lifted, remains in force, although humanitarian aid can continue to be transferred to Gaza via Israeli ports.
Israel says the Gaza blockade is needed to curb arms smuggling by Hamas, an Islamist group that last fought a war with Israel in 2014. Hamas, which won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and European Unions.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Dasha Afanasieva, Writing by Daren Butler; editing by Dominic Evans)
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