(photo credit: Nisim Lev)
Israel did not commit to ending its Gaza blockade as part of
reconciliation with Turkey and could clamp down even harder on the
Palestinian enclave if security is threatened, a senior Israeli official
said on Sunday.
After Friday's US-brokered fence-mending
announcement, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Israel had met
his demands that it apologize for killing nine Turks aboard a Gaza-bound
activist ship in 2010, pay compensation and ease the blockade.
But during the almost three-year rift between the ex-allies, Erdogan had routinely insisted that Israel end the blockade.
rapprochement deal noted Israel's relaxing of curbs on Gaza's civilian
imports in that period and pledged "to continue to work to improve"
Palestinians' humanitarian situation.
"If there is quiet, the
processes easing the lives of Gazan residents will continue. And if
there is Katyusha (rocket) fire, then these moves will be slowed and
even stopped and, if necessary, even reversed," National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror said.
"We did not agree to
promise (Turkey) that under any condition we would continue to transfer
all the things into Gaza and ease up on the residents of Gaza if there
is shooting from there," he told Army Radio.
"We do not intend to give up on our right to respond to what happens in Gaza because of the agreement with the Turks."
Amidror noted the reconciliation held benefits for Israel, such as
helping it deal with spillover from civil war in Syria and pursue other
regional interests, including cooperation with NATO, which alliance
partner Ankara had sought to block.
On Thursday, terrorists in Gaza fired rockets
into Israel during a visit by US
President Barack Obama, causing no casualties. Israel responded by
closing a commercial crossing with Gaza and slashing Palestinian access
to fishing waters.
Two Israeli officials told Reuters they knew
of no plan to review the naval blockade of Gaza, imposed during Operation Cast Lead of
2008-2009 and which Israel says stems arms shipments to the territory's
Islamist Hamas government and smaller factions.
which has largely held fire since its eight-day war with Israel in
November, said on Friday
that Erdogan told its leader, Khaled Meshaal,
that the Jewish state had promised to "lift the siege on the Palestinian
Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister in the Hamas government, said he expected Erdogan to make a solidarity visit to Gaza "soon".
marines boarded a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara
, which tried to reach
Gaza in 2010 and killed nine activists in deck brawls. A UN
investigation faulted Israel for excessive force but deemed the blockade
legal - a finding Ankara rejected.
Erdogan, whose government has
roots in political Islam, previously referred to the Marmara
"martyrs" and accused Israel of murder and state terrorism.
had long offered statements of regret but balked at apologizing, saying
such contrition would cast a defensive maritime action as immoral and
draw lawsuits against the navy.
On Friday, Prime
Minister Netanyahu said he had "expressed Israel's apology to the
Turkish people for any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life
Israel, which previously offered compensation to
those bereaved or injured on the Marmara
, would conclude a damages deal
involving "nonliability," Netanyahu's office said - a reference to the
Turks scrapping bids to prosecute Israelis.
A senior Netanyahu
aide said apologizing had been "a difficult decision" for the prime
minister. Erdogan's office said that in his phone conversation with
Netanyahu he had voiced appreciation for the "centuries-long friendship
and cooperation between the Turkish and Jewish nations".
Erdogan had offered a reciprocal apology for rhetoric including an
attack on Zionism last month
that drew a US rebuke, Amidror said no.
is the Middle East (where) matters of honor play this or that a role
in the behavior of people and nations," he said, arguing Israel
apologized for the sake of the national interest.