Israel Offers $20m to Flotilla Families


JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel agreed to pay $20m in compensation to families of pro-Palestinian Turkish activists killed aboard the flotilla flagship Mavi Marmara in May 2010, Israeli media reports.

Turkish negotiators reportedly lowered their demand by $10m while Israel upped its initial offer by $5m. The funds will be distributed according to criteria stipulated in the agreement.

Diplomatic relations between the former allies soured after pro-Palestinian activists aboard the flagship attacked IDF soldiers as they attempted to divert the ship to Israel's Ashdod port for land transport of its cargo to the Gaza Strip.

Naval commandos, armed with paintball guns to subdue the demonstrators, if necessary, eventually received permission to use live ammunition against attackers brandishing knives, metal pipes and chains, and stun grenades. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the confrontation.

When Israeli officials initially refused demands by Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize and compensate the families, Turkey cut diplomatic and trade ties with Israel.

Meanwhile, Erdogan continues efforts to shore up ties with Iran after the friendship tottered over Syria, with Iran supporting the Assad regime and the Turkish government siding with Islamist rebel forces.

Erdogan also supports Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, itself an offshoot of the Brotherhood. According to some analysts, Syria will continue to drive a wedge between them.

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