Steinitz: Turkey apology important for int'l affairs

New International Affairs Minister says reconciliation with Turkey will allow renewed discussion on Syria crisis.

Yuval Steinitz 370 (photo credit: Hadas Parush)
Yuval Steinitz 370
(photo credit: Hadas Parush)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did the correct and rational thing by apologizing to Turkey last week over the Mavi Marmara affair, International Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud Beytenu) said Friday evening in an interview with Channel 2. He added that in his opinion Israel should have apologized three years ago.
He noted that while the issue was important to the US, but Israel was the one that had the initiative for the measure.
“We took into account that [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan would try to portray it as a victory,” he said.
Steinitz, however, said the the affair was not a matter of justice, but that relations with Turkey are important and reconciliation between the two countries will allow renewed discussion about the Syria crisis.
He also said that the move would allow for putting an end to legal claims against IDF soldiers involved in the 2010 raid of the ship, attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, that led to the death of nine Turks.
“We put the ball in their court... we did what we needed to do,” he opined, explaining that Netanyahu had decided to take advantage of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the region to put an end to the affair.
Turning to the issue of the state budget, the former finance minister said his replacement, Yair Lapid, is conveying the right overall message, namely that the situation regarding the budget is difficult.
“He is doing the right thing; he is preparing the public for tough cuts. There will always be cuts, but this time it will be particularly difficult,” Steinitz said.
He pointed to recommendations made by the Trajtenberg Committee on Socioeconomic Change – established as a response to the social justice movement – as a major cause of necessary budget cuts, saying that they cost NIS 10 billion.
“Now we need to fund those recommendations,” he said.
Steinitz, however, was keen to emphasize that, relative to the economic situation in the rest of the world, Israel’s economy is in good shape.