Turkish FM: We want to make peace with Israel

Speaking on the eve of the return of the 'Mavi Marmara' to Istanbul, Davutoglu says Ankara intends to reconcile with Israel, but accuses Jerusalem gov't. of not reciprocating Turkish overtures.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS, JPOST.COM STAFF
December 25, 2010 19:15
2 minute read.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Davutoglu 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

ANKARA, Turkey— Turkey's foreign minister on Saturday said that the country wants improved ties with Israel but it must apologize and offer compensation for its deadly raid on a Gaza Strip-bound aid flotilla.

Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters that "We have the intention of making peace with Israel."

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He accused the Israeli government of not reciprocating Turkish overtures and says "nothing can cover up" the killing of Turkish citizens. The Israeli raid on the flotilla killed nine activists in May.

Davutoglu says "we want to both preserve relations and defend our rights." He spoke on the eve of the return of the raided Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, to Istanbul. Pro-Islamic groups are preparing to welcome the ship in a ceremony on Sunday.

Earlier this month, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that Israel has no intention of apologizing to the Turkish government over the events of the flotilla raid on May 31.

Ayalon's remarks contradicted an official statement from The Prime Minister's Office which said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau was working on improving relations with Ankara after Turkey offered help to extinguish the Carmel fires.

Ayalon responded to a series of proposals expressing the state's intention to compensate the families affected by the events of the raid.

"These proposals rely on newspaper reports. I am not responsible for these reports," Ayalon said.

Also reacting to reports in the Israeli media that Netanyahu was considering apologizing for for the outcome of the May 31 flotilla raid, MK Danny Danon (Likud) sent a letter Thursday to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

In his letter, which he read during a special Knesset session on Wednesday, Danon "apologized" for the fact that Israel did not anticipate ahead of time the violent nature of the Turkish-sponsored Mavi Marmara before it began its voyage towards Israel.

"We are sorry that our soldiers acted logically and humanly while taking into account the civilians that were aboard the ship," Danon wrote.

"We are sorry that due to the IDF's over-cautious behavior, only nine terrorists were killed in self-defense by our soldiers after they were brutally attacked. Had our government and army known from the outset that this boat had violent terrorists aboard, our soldiers would have received orders to act with a much larger show of force then was deployed in the end, possibly even orders to simply destroy the boat completely without risking lives by attempting a boarding."

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report


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