FM cites US precedent for refusing Turkey apology

Liberman says if US does not apologize over killing of Pakistanis, Israel should not have to apologize over 'Mavi Marmara' raid.

Mavi Marmara 311 (photo credit: Stringer Turkey / Reuters)
Mavi Marmara 311
(photo credit: Stringer Turkey / Reuters)
If the US adamantly refuses to apologize to Pakistan for the accidental killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, Israel certainly need not say sorry to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara deaths, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday.
Liberman, speaking at an accountants’ conference in Eilat, said Israel should not hesitate to make this position clear to Washington.
“The Pakistanis asked the US to apologize, and the Americans said ‘no way,’” Liberman said in reference to the November incident where US forces accidentally fired on two Pakistani border posts.
The US has since expressed regret for the incident, something Israel has also said it was willing to do regarding the killing of nine Turks on the May 2010 flotilla that aimed to break the blockade of Gaza.
“So when they come to us and pressure us to apologize over the Marmara, because of this or that constraint, sometimes even to best friends you must say ‘no.’ Otherwise, no one will respect you,” Liberman declared.
Liberman said the commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara and clashed with those on the ship were clearly exercising their rights of self defense. The Turkish pressure on Israel to apologize now is to “deter us from using the legitimate right for self defense,” he said.
Last week a Turkish court decided to indict former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and three other former top IDF officials for involvement in the Mavi Marmara confrontation.
Liberman said his position on the issue remains the same as it was immediately following the incident: “We were right, and you don’t apologize over something right, regardless of the pressure.”
Michele Flournoy, who served as the third top official in the Pentagon before stepping down earlier this year, said last week at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv that it was very important for “Israel to repair its relationship with Turkey.”
Flournoy, who played a key role in shaping US President Barack Obama’s national security policy, hinted that Israel should apologize, saying Turkey was one of the strongest and most influential voices in the region, remained a close and valued NATO ally for the United States, and shared “our interest in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state.”
While acknowledging that “she understands that past events have made concrete steps towards reconciliation quite difficult,” Flournoy said “if there is ever a time for Israel to rise above past differences and recriminations with Turkey, now is that time.
“Israel must act more strategically, and I think there is tremendous opportunity to rebuild its partnership with Turkey and with other partners where it can. This is really important at a time of such [regional] uncertainty.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in May that during discussions last December in Washington over whether it should apologize to the Pakistanis, Flournoy suggested language whereby the US would apologize for the “unintentional and tragic” deaths, but would not accept full responsibility. According to the paper, she argued that the “US risked the issue festering.”
No US apology has yet been forthcoming, and The Wall Street Journal quoted a senior administration official as wondering how Washington could apologize to a country that was providing, at least through some parts of its government, tacit support to those attacking US troops.
“This isn’t about politics,” the official is quoted as saying. “This is about the message that would send to our troops and that is what no one in the military or the White House could countenance.”