An Israeli apology to Ankara over 2010’s Mavi Marmara incident will not change
the relations between the two countries, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan has no intention of improving ties, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Lieberman’s comments in an Israel Radio interview came
amid reports that the US had softened Lieberman’s position on an apology to
Turkey and would not bolt the coalition if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
decided to apologize for “operational” mistakes that took place while
intercepting the Mavi Marmara.
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Sources in the Foreign Ministry denied
this report, saying Lieberman had made it clear weeks ago that he would not
leave the government over this issue.
In his interview, Thursday,
Lieberman pointed out that Erdogan was not only calling for an apology, but also
for a lifting of the naval blockade of Gaza. He also said the Turkish leader was
pressuring countries in the region to support the Palestinian statehood bid at
the UN in September.
Earlier in the week, Lieberman said Bulgaria – a
country with close ties to Israel – was under intense pressure from Erdogan to
support the PA at the UN.
“Whoever sees the positions expressed by Turkey
[regarding Israel and the Palestinians] in the international community does not
have any illusions that an apology will dramatically improve Israel’s ties with
Turkey,” he said.
Lieberman said an apology would be interpreted
regionally as weakness, “and they don’t like weakness here. It is forbidden to
be weak, and an apology is first and foremost a message of weakness.”
foreign minister dismissed the notion that an apology, and paying compensation
to the families of the nine Turks killed in the incident, would fend off future
legal action against IDF soldiers, saying there are dozens of such actions
pending around the world.
“I met yesterday with the parents of those same
commandos [who took part in the operation], those same soldiers who came to my
office with one request: under no circumstances give in and apologize. When you
apologize it is an admission of guilt,” Lieberman said.
Hoyer, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the US House of Representatives,
told The Jerusalem Post
Thursday that the issue of Turkey did come up in talks
he had with Netanyahu on Wednesday, and that the US does believe that improving
Israeli-Turkish relations is an “important objective.”
“[Netanyahu] made it
clear that he would like to see the relationship improve,” Hoyer said of the
prime minister’s comments on the issue. “He did not mention an apology with
Hoyer said he did not want to give an opinion whether there
should be an apology or not, but said he was “very supportive of Israel’s
actions” in reference to the naval blockade.
Senior diplomatic officials
have said that the US has been encouraging the sides to come to a resolution of
the issue, believing that the ability of Israel and Turkey to work together is
strongly in the US interest, as well as in the interests of both
The Turkish issue was reportedly one of a number of regional
issues Netanyahu discussed with US President Barack Obama in a conversation they
had on Wednesday.