New Minister of Economy and Trade Naftali Bennett lashed out at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday over his response to an apology delivered by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for a May 2010 IDF raid on a flotilla heading for Gaza, in which nine Turkish nationals died.
“It seems that since [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s] apology, Erdogan is doing everything to make Israel regret it”, Bennett wrote in his official Facebook page. “He is running a personal and vitriolic campaign at the expense of Israeli-Turkish relations.”
Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan in a phone call last week, just as US President Barack Obama was leaving the country. During the conversation, Netanyahu voiced regret for the loss of life in the incident, and apologized for any mistakes that led to the death of the nine Turkish activists. Breaking a three-year deadlock, the two agreed to normalize relations.
Since then however, Erdogan appears to have backtracked on commitments he made during the conversation, announcing that he intends to visit Gaza, and saying that despite Israel's apology, it is still too early to drop the case against IDF generals accused by Ankara of being responsible for the deaths.
Erdogan also said Netanyahu's apology satisfied Turkish expectations when he used the word "apology" instead of "regret," but that it was still too soon to fully restore diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.
“It must be clear to Erdogan that if Israel encounters any future terrorism, our response will be no less severe [than in May 2010]”, Bennett wrote Wednesday. "Let there be no doubt – no nation is doing Israel a favor by renewing ties."
The minister also paid tribute to IDF soldiers, concluding his comment by saying, "The fighters of the IDF, we are always with you" and urging them to "do everything - and I mean everything - to protect the citizens of the state of Israel."
Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin became the first Likud MK to criticize Netanyahu's apology to Turkey, telling reporters near the Temple Mount on Wednesday that it would only lead to more conflicts with Muslims and Arabs.
"So we apologized to the Turks - did that bring peace?" he asked rhetorically. "It was a big mistake. The more you tell Arabs that they are the right side, the more violence will increase."