Erdogan: 'Unthinkable' for ties to improve before apology

Turkish PM: Normalization to come after Israel apologizes; Abbas in Istanbul: State bid "forced" on us by Israeli refusal to stop settlements.

July 23, 2011 13:10
2 minute read.
Abbas and Erdogan meet in Istanbul, Saturday.

abbas and erodgan_311 reuters. (photo credit: Murad Sezer / Reuters)


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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said it was "unthinkable" for Turkey to repair relations with Israel until it apologized for the raid on the Mavi Marmara last year, AFP reported.

"As long as Israel does not apologize to Turkey, pay compensation to the families of the victims and lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, a normalization of relations is unthinkable," he said during a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Istanbul.

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Talk tough with Turkey
Ya'alon: Turkey wants an apology, not reconciliation
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The comments come after Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday 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.

In response, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed outrage that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was considering delivering a limited apology, saying "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.”

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Meanwhile, during his meeting with Erdogan in Istanbul, Abbas said Saturday that the Palestinian plan to obtain UN support for statehood in September was "forced" on them by Israel's refusal to stop settlement construction and end the "occupation," AFP reported.

"We are going to the United Nations because we are forced to, it is not a unilateral action," he told Palestinian diplomats from around the world meeting in Istanbul to garner support for the PA's statehood bid. "What is unilateral is Israeli settlement."

'We have not been able to return to negotiations with [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu because of his refusal to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders and to stop settlement," he was quoted as saying by AFP. "Our first, second and third choice is to return to negotiations."

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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