'Turkish officials say Barak preventing flotilla apology'

Ankara says defense minister and IDF don't have problem with compensation to families, but refuse to apologize, 'Zaman' reports.

Child holding Turkish flag 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Child holding Turkish flag 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
A senior Turkish official on Saturday told Turkish paper Today's Zaman that domestic Israeli political considerations may be preventing a return to normal relations between the two countries. He said that the Turkish government supports the talks between the two countries that began in Geneva following Ankara's firefighting aid to Israel during the Carmel fires last week.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek told Today's Zaman that although he hopes "Israel continues to display a constructive approach... it seems difficult for Israel to accept those conditions because of domestic politics." In what may have been an attempt to lower expectations of the talks, he added, "It is unlikely that the relations will develop positively in the short term."
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The report quoted a senior Turkish government official saying that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was seeking to repair diplomatic relations between the two Mediterranean states but that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are opposed to some of the central Turkish demands by Turkey for reconciliation.
The Turkish Cabinet source told Zaman that Barak sees the value in repairing relations between Turkey and Israel. He added that Barak and IDF officials do not even object to paying compensation to the families of those killed on the Mavi Marmara during a deadly March raid on the Turkish ship that was attempting to break Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip. The defense minister and military officials, however, are opposed to Jerusalem issuing an apology, according to the report.
Turkish representative to the UN flotilla inquiry panel Ozdem Sanberk said that the central point of contention between diplomats of the two countries is the word "apology," according to Zaman. Sanberk added, "As far as it concerns the Turkish side, it has never negotiated a word other than the word 'apology'."
No new meetings between Israel and Turkey were currently scheduled, a Turkish Foreign Ministery spokesman said, but backed away from the implication that talks were stalled, saying, "Contacts [with Israeli officials] will continue," according to the report.
It was reported earlier that Israel had offered to pay the families of those killed on the Mavi Marmara $100,000 each, but according to Zaman, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu denied that an offer had been made.