Lieberman aghast about possible apology to Turkey

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
July 22, 2011 01:25

FM says Netanyahu about to fold under pressure again; comments come after Ya'alon says gov't won't apologize to Turkey, but J'lem may debate it.

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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311. (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed outrage on Thursday following reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was considering delivering a limited apology to Turkey over the deaths of nine Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara protest ship in May 2010.

Lieberman was already angry with the prime minister for effectively killing Israel Beiteinu’s proposal for a parliamentary commission of inquiry to probe non-governmental organizations that harm the IDF. He told his party’s ministers on Thursday that Netanyahu was about to once more capitulate to international pressure.

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“This is a diplomatic, not a legal issue,” he told the ministers. “This would be abandoning IDF soldiers. It’s diplomatically irresponsible. It’s diplomatic surrender. Israel is broadcasting weakness, embarrassment and an inability to stand up to pressure.”

Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu was considering delivering a limited apology in exchange for recognition by Turkey of the legality of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and the halting of any legal action against the Israel Navy commandos involved. The apology would refer to “operational errors” that occurred during the operation.

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Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon told foreign reporters that Israel is not ready to apologize to Turkey. But he added that such a decision may be debated in Jerusalem, and that the doubt he has expressed in recent days was his own.

“We are not ready to apologize, as apology, actually, is taking responsibility. You know, our soldiers on the Mavi Marmara were fighting to defend their lives,” Ya’alon said.

An inquiry into the incident set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer is set to publish its findings on Wednesday.

“We still have six days” to decide what to do, Ya’alon said.

A source close to Netanyahu said that the dialogue with Turkey is being carried out ahead of the Palmer’s Report’s release. The prime minister is considering his position, and the safety of IDF soldiers is his top priority, the source said.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.


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