Lieberman: Israeli apology for Gaza flotilla raid would not improve Turkey ties

FM says Turkish PM will not make do with an apology since he demands ending Gaza blockade; Army Radio reports U.S. secured an Israel-Turkey reconciliation deal but Netanyahu backed out at last minute.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that an Israeli apology to Turkey will not improve the ties between the two countries.

„[Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep] Erdogan will not make do with just an apology… He also demands lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip,” Lieberman told Israel Radio, insisting that Israel does not have to apologize for the 2010 Israel Defense Forces raid on a Gaza-bound ship in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

Lieberman maintained that Israel acted as a moral state and said that even the UN report on the events surrounding the Gaza flotilla ruled that Israel acted according to international law.

Meanwhile, Army Radio reported on Thursday that the U.S. had already managed to secure an Israeli-Turkish reconciliation agreement two weeks ago, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed out of the deal at the last minute.

The reconciliation deal was reported to include an Israeli apology for tactical errors done during the IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara ship, part of last year’s Gaza flotilla, and agree to transfer of funds to a Turkish foundation for those killed in the raid. In turn, Turkey would commit to refrain from suing Israel or IDF soldiers who took part in the raid.

According to the report, Netanyahu initially explained that Israel cannot apologize since Lieberman will respond by breaking up the coalition. The U.S. then pressured Lieberman to promise he will not do so, and the foreign minister went on to make a public statement that apology or not, he will not dismantle Netanyahu’s coalition.

However at the last moment, Netanyahu explained that due to Israel’s increasing social protests, he cannot allow himself to open another front when his popularity is at a low.