Israel unfazed by Turkish sanctions, won't apologize

Senior gov't official: Israel hopes a "way can be found to overcome the disagreements" with Ankara, but adds soldiers acted in self defense.

September 2, 2011 17:22
2 minute read.
'Mavi Marmara' under maintenance in Istanbul.

mavi marmara flotilla_311 reuters. (photo credit: Osman Orsal / Reuters)


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Despite Turkey's decision to downgrade diplomatic ties with Israel and freeze all military agreements, a senior government official said Friday afternoon Israel would not apologize to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara incident.

The official said that as recommended by the Palmer Commission report, presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, Israel "again expresses its regret for the loss of life, but will not apologize for actions of self defense taken by its soldiers."

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"Israel, like all nations, has the legitimate right to defend its civilians and soldiers," the official said.

The official said that Israel understood the importance of "the historic relations" between the "Jewish and Turkish people.  In light of that, Israel made many efforts in recent months to solve the conflict between the countries, but these did not succeed."

The official said that Israel hoped a "way would be found to overcome the disagreements, and will work toward that aim."

The oft-delayed Palmer Commission report upheld the legality of Israel's naval blockade and right to intercept vessels trying to break it, and also said there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. At the same time the report said the IDF, which it acknowledged came under pre-meditated violence by IHH activists on the ship, used "unreasonable" and "excessive" force.

In rare praise for a UN document, the senior Israeli official called it "professional, serious and in depth," and said Israel adopted the commission's findings – though with reservations about the panel's conclusion that unreasonable and excessive force was used by the IDF.

Regarding Turkey's decision to expel Israel's envoy to Ankara, the official said the ambassador – Gabi Levy – had already finished his tenure in Ankara, had taken leave of his Turkish counterparts in Ankara, and was returning to Israel in the coming days.  No replacement for Levy, whose retirement from the Foreign Ministry has been known for months, was ever named.

Referring to one of the five measures that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at a press conference Friday that Ankara would take against Israel – take measures for freedom of maritime movement in the eastern Mediterranean Sea – the official said that Israel hoped Turkey would "honor international law" in all matters regarding maritime traffic in the Mediterranean.

The other measures he said Israel would take included downgrading diplomatic ties with Israel; freezing all military agreements; no longer recognizing the Gaza blockade and taking the issue to the International Court of Justice; and supporting  "flotilla victims" who will take the matter to court.

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