Turkey's leader has "shut the door" on reconciliation by insisting Israel end the Gaza blockade and apologize for storming a Turkish ship sailing towards the Palestinian enclave, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday.
But in a possible reflection of disagreement within the government, another official said rapprochement talks continued with Turkey ahead of the publication of a UN report which Israel has predicted will largely vindicate its actions.
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In a speech to parliament on Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his demands for Israeli amends over last year's high seas seizure of the Mavi Marmara activist ship.
Israel has broached paying compensation but refused to apologize, saying its personnel acted in self-defense.
"It is clear that this person is looking not for accommodation, nor peace, nor normalization, but wants to humiliate the State of Israel, sap its international standing, and harm our status in the region," Lieberman said.
"I'm surprised he didn't also demand that we set the retirement age for women," he told Israel Radio, referring to a recent domestic political dispute. "He has no intention of arriving at normalization with us. He has shut the door."
Citing an additional concern that the marines could be exposed to prosecution aboard, Israeli officials say they will go no further than "expressing regret" over the incident.
The overtures were made in several rounds of low-key talks between Israeli and Turkish delegates in Geneva and New York.
Lieberman has voiced misgivings at the contacts. At the height of the crisis, he likened Turkey under Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party to Iran.
Zvi Hauser, Netanyahu's cabinet secretary, said separately on Sunday that negotiations with Turkey continued and that he hoped a "redeeming formula" for reconciliation could be found.
," Hauser told Army Radio, but added that this would have to be balanced with Israel's security concerns.
Israeli officials say the UN report will come out on July 27. Citing earlier drafts, they predict it will be in favor of the Gaza blockade and its enforcement, which Israel says stem arms smuggling by the Hamas.
Turkey, which calls the blockade illegal, says it would not accept such findings by the panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and headed by former New Zealand premier Geoffrey Palmer.
Lieberman: 'Flotilla vanished like a rain cloud on a summer day'
Commenting on recent efforts by pro-Palestinian activists to breach the Gaza blockade by organizing a flotilla to the Strip, Lieberman told Israel Radio that flotilla has failed due to successful measures taken by Israel.
"The 'air' and naval flotilla have vanished like a rain cloud on a summer day," Lieberman said, adding, "Israel was successful in their prevention."
Lieberman also commented on reports Sunday that the United States backs Lebanon on the maritime border and gas reserves dispute, saying the reports were "nonsense."
On peace talks with the Palestinians, Lieberman said Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed only the "toughest
Palestinian positions" since the Oslo Accords and that the new American
proposal promising security guarantees if a Palestinian state is created
cannot be relied on.
According to Lieberman, such promises proved useless after the Second Lebanon War and after the Gaza withdrawal.