Liberman: Syrian rebels rejected Israeli assistance

Foreign minister tells Turkish journalists Israel unwilling to apologize to Turkey over 'Mavi Marmara' deaths but ready to repair bilateral relations, adds Israel will not compromise on safety of citizens.

Syrians demonstrate near Homs 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Shaam News Network)
Syrians demonstrate near Homs 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Shaam News Network)
The Syrian opposition rejected an Israeli offer of assistance, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in an interview with Turkish media published Tuesday.
"We offered humanitarian assistance but they rejected it," he told the Turkish journalists in Jerusalem Sunday. "Everybody has told us that it is much better to keep the distance.”
The foreign minister added: “We don’t want to impose ourselves on the Syrian opposition. It is impossible to impose ourselves on somebody. We can only suggest but cannot impose," Turkish daily Hurriyet quoted him as saying.
According to Liberman's spokesman, the meeting was the foreign minister's first with Turkish media since the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, during which Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish vessel as it attempted to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, killing eight. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also met Monday with a delegation of eight senior Turkish print journalists the Foreign Ministry brought to Israel in an attempt to “break the ice” with Turkey’s public.
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Liberman said he is ready to move forward and resolve any outstanding bilateral disputes with Ankara, but refused to apologize for the deaths of the eight Turkish nationals killed aboard the Marmara.
“We are ready to discuss [our problems with Turkey] in high-level or low-level open meetings,” Liberman said. “We’re really ready to discuss not only this issue but also the Iranian problem, the Gaza Strip or the support for Hamas. But [we’re not ready] to discuss in what way we will protect our citizens,” the foreign minister said.