Israel Will Not Apologize to Turkey, Says Yaalon
Israel has said it will not apologize for killing nine Turkish activists onboard the Gaza-bound aid flotilla in international waters last year.
Israel’s cabinet minister Moshe Yaalon said he has recently held three rounds of talks with Turkey, and that they are demanding an apology.
“We are not ready to apologize,” Yaalon said.
However, he did hint that there might be a change in their stance as there are some disputes over the issue within the Israeli cabinet.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Friday, after meeting with US administration officials that Israel needs to find a way to compromise with Turkey, Ynet News reported.
"I’m not talking about an apology for the (Gaza) blockade or an apology for the flotilla, but about saying that if any errors were made during the operation – we regret them," he said.
"I don’t like it … but it’s not a bad thing to have reasonable relations with Turkey,” he added.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermen, however, has ruled out any apology.
The Israeli military attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 2010, killing nine Turkish nationals aboard the Turkish-flagged MV Mavi Marmara and injuring about 50 other activists that were part of the team on the six-ship convoy.
Since the attack took place, Turkey has demanded an apology.
Furthermore, Yaalon added that an upcoming UN report on the raid is expected to defend Israel’s raid on the flotilla and the blockade of Gaza.
“The report includes very important conclusions for Israel, which put Turkey in the corner in terms of the justification for the blockade, the justification for stopping the flotilla and the justification for using force," Barak said when commenting about the upcoming UN report.
Israel has maintained a crippling siege of the Gaza Strip since 2007, and is facing mounting pressure from the international community to lift it.
Some 1.5 million people in Gaza are being denied basic rights, including the freedom of movement and the right to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education.
Rights activists have made several symbolic attempts, at times successfully, to break the blockade.