Netanyahu with Kerry in Rome: Turkey deal will have ‘immense implications’

(JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before his meeting Monday in Rome with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the reconciliation agreement to be announced with Turkey will have “immense implications for the Israeli economy.”

Netanyahu thanked Kerry for his assistance in bringing about the agreement. “I know your team has been working long and hard at this,” he told Kerry.

Netanyahu and Kerry also met on Sunday night. He said he welcomed the opportunity to have “probing talks on the region, on the challenges and on the opportunities with my good friend John Kerry. There are serious talks by two committed allies, Israel and the United States.”

The two leaders said they discussed the challenges in the region including the Islamic State, regional security cooperation, advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, stabilizing the Middle East and bilateral issues.

Kerry said the United States welcomed the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey, saying: “we are obviously pleased in the Administration. This is a step we wanted to see happen.” He recalled that U.S. President Barack Obama first negotiated the reconciliation, during his March 2013 visit to Israel, when he put Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the phone together while Obama’s plane idled on the tarmac. It was during this call that Netanyahu apologized for the death of Turkish citizens during the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, when Israeli commandos boarded and killed nine Turkish citizens in clashes on a boat attempting to break Israel’s Gaza blockade.

Kerry added: “Most importantly, Israel is, as everybody knows and we reiterate again and again, a critical ally and friend of the United States, and Israel continues to be facing significant challenges. We talked about those, and the ways in which, hopefully, with good effort by all leaders, we can try to change the direction and find a positive way to affect the lives of everybody – Israelis, Palestinians, people in the neighboring countries – and move towards a more stable and peaceful future.”

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