Israel to Turkey: No malicious intent in 'Marmara' raid

Officials discuss ways to end political crisis between Ankara and Jerusalem; sources close to Lieberman: "Turks need to apologize to us."

December 7, 2010 22:46
2 minute read.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

In an effort to put an end to the crisis in Israeli-Turkish ties caused by the Gaza flotilla incident last May, Israel is looking for wording of a formula that will make clear that Israel “did not act in malice” when it overtook the boat as it was trying to break the blockade, an Israeli official said Tuesday night.

The official’s comments came amid meetings held in Geneva over the last few days between top Israeli and Turkish officials following the Turkish gesture last week of sending two planes to Israel to help fight the fire on Mount Carmel.

'Israel, Turkey hold second meeting to mend ties'
Fire warms up ties with Turkey

Even as Israeli representative Yosef Ciechanover and Feridun Sinirlioglu were conducting talks in Geneva to come up with a formula, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to insist on an Israeli apology and an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

According to AFP, Erdogan said in a weekly speech in parliament, “If anyone wants to turn a new page, they must first admit their crime... apologize and pay compensation.

“And we are also saying that the embargoes – which have been relaxed but that’s not enough – must be lifted,” he said.

“If we see these steps being taken, then we will evaluate the situation... We are not acting with feelings of grudge and hatred,” he added.

Sources close to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meanwhile, said that an apology to Turkey would be no less than a “surrender to terrorism.”

“Israel needs to ask for a Turkish apology, and for it to pay compensation for the aid it gave those supporting terrorists and the IHH, which countries such as Germany have called a terrorist organization.”

Turkish officials reportedly said that Israel had agreed to pay compensation to the families of the nine Turkish citizens killed in the incident as well as damages to those injured, and that what was now being discussed was the wording of the Israeli apology.

Netanyahu, at a press conference Monday, ignored a question regarding whether he would apologize, saying instead that he had expressed his appreciation to the Turks for their assistance with fighting the fire, and hoped that the ties between the two countries would improve.

Netanyahu is intent on ensuring that IDF soldiers are not in any way vulnerable to legal proceedings being opened against them here or abroad, one Israeli official said.

Turkey has made an apology and compensation a pre-condition to returning its envoy to Tel Aviv and to returning ties between the two countries to “normal.”

In a related development, the security cabinet is expected on Wednesday to discuss a further easing of restrictions on Gaza, and allowing more exports out of the region to improve the economic situation there. Government officials said that allowing more exports means that the goods will go through Ashdod port, a serious security problem since Israel cannot, obviously, depend on Hamas officials inside Gaza to provide a security check on the outgoing cargo.

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