Erdogan: No closer Israel ties without 'Marmara' apology

Official in J'lem says Netanyahu told Clinton Israel won't apologize to Ankara; Lieberman: I'm sorry we didn't decide against apology earlier.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
August 17, 2011 20:48
3 minute read.
Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister

Tayyip Erdogan 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday it would be impossible for Turkish-Israeli ties to improve unless Jerusalem apologized and paid compensation for the killing of nine Turks aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara last year.

Earlier Wednesday, an official in Jerusalem said Israel will stick to its refusal to apologize to Turkey, dampening any prospects for reconciliation between the former allies.

RELATED:
Israel-Turkey relations and the silent revolution
Lieberman: Apology to Turkey will broadcast weakness


Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The decision, which the official said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu conveyed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a telephone call, was made days before the publication of the findings of a UN inquiry into the seizure of the Mavi Marmara last year.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday said he regrets that Israel didn't decide against apologizing to Turkey earlier.

Referencing Turkey's demand that Israel apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals last year aboard the Mavi Marmara, Lieberman told Channel 2, "I'm sorry that the decision wasn't taken earlier."

"It made us look indecisive and it also gave false hope to some of our friends," he explained.

Asked what would happen next in the Marmara affair, Lieberman said, "I think now the Palmer report will be published."

The so-called Palmer report was repeatedly delayed to allow for Israeli-Turkish rapprochement talks amid concern in Washington at the rift between two countries that had been strategic partners in an increasingly stormy Middle East.



Officials, citing advance copies of the report, have said it would vindicate Israel's blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Turkey, which like Israel had a delegate on the UN panel headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer, has said it would not accept such a finding.

The Mavi Marmara was part of an activist flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza when it was boarded by Israeli marines on the Mediterranean high seas on May 31, 2010. The marines shot dead nine Turks, including a dual US citizen, during fierce deck brawls.

Netanyahu voiced regret over the killings. But Turkey insisted on a formal apology and compensation for those bereaved and injured, which Israel initially rejected as tantamount to admitting culpability for an action it deems self-defense.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a centrist in Netanyahu's conservative coalition government, has since stirred debate inside the cabinet by proposing Israel offer a diluted apology in hope of restoring ties with what was once a rare Muslim ally of the Jewish state.

"We're firm on not apologizing," the official said.

Asked if Israel might change tack after the Palmer report's publication, the official said: "Why would we do that? We know the report supports our position."

Kurt Hoyer, spokesman for the US embassy, said Washington wanted Israel and Turkey "to look for opportunities to get past the current strains in their bilateral relations." He would not comment on the conversation the Israeli official said had taken place on Tuesday between Netanyahu and Clinton.

In arguing for accommodating the Turks, Barak had said this would help indemnify Israel's navy personnel against lawsuits abroad. The Palmer report would contain some criticism of Israeli tactics aboard the Mavi Marmara, Barak said.

His most vocal opponent in the cabinet was Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who noted that Ankara's Islamist-rooted government also demands an end to the Gaza blockade.

Israel calls the measure a precaution against arms reaching Hamas and other Palestinian guerrillas by sea. Palestinians and their supporters describe the blockade as illegal collective punishment.

The United Nations has said it expects to release the Palmer report this month. Officials gave August 22 as the publication date.

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
August 31, 2014
Prime minister to Channel 1: I’ll be running again in next election

By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN