'Foreign Ministry unsure if it'll replace envoy in Ankara'

Officials say Jerusalem is waiting to see if agreement reached over 'Marmara,' whether Turkish PM Erdogan visits Gaza Strip.

August 12, 2011 10:02
2 minute read.
The 'Mavi Marmara'

The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)


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The Foreign Ministry has yet to decide whether it will send a new ambassador to Ankara when current Ambassador Gabi Levi’s term ends at the end of the year or to leave only a lower-ranking diplomat in his place, Israel Radio reported on Friday.

Senior officials in the Foreign Ministry said they are waiting until talks over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident conclude to decide on the next move. In recent months, Israel and Turkey have been attempting to find mutually agreeable language and terms to settle the affair.

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Lieberman: Apology to Turkey will broadcast weakness
Top ministers air differing opinions on Turkey apology

Turkey wants Israel to apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals aboard the Mavi Marmara, a flotilla ship that attempted to breach Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, while Israel has publicly said it is only willing to express regret over the deaths.

Additionally, according to the Israel Radio report, officials in Jerusalem are waiting to see if Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan follows through on statements indicating he may visit Gaza, saying that if he does so, the Turkish prime minister would find himself tied to Hamas.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that an Israeli apology to Ankara would not change the soured relations between the two countries, and Erdogan has no intention of improving ties.

Lieberman’s comments in an Israel Radio interview came amid reports that the US had softened Lieberman’s position on an apology to Turkey and that he would not bolt the coalition if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided to apologize for “operational” mistakes that took place while intercepting the Mavi Marmara.


Sources in the Foreign Ministry denied this report, saying Lieberman had made it clear weeks ago that he would not leave the government over this issue.

In his interview Thursday, Lieberman pointed out that Erdogan was not only calling for an apology, but also for a lifting of the naval blockade of Gaza. He also said the Turkish leader was pressuring countries in the region to support the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN in September.

Lieberman said an apology would be interpreted regionally as weakness, “and they don’t like weakness here. It is forbidden to be weak, and an apology is first and foremost a message of weakness.”

The foreign minister dismissed the notion that an apology and paying compensation to the families of the nine Turks killed in the incident would fend off future legal action against IDF soldiers, saying there are dozens of such actions pending around the world.

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