Vice PM: Ankara Making Israel-Turkey Reconciliation Impossible

Moshe Ya'alon says as long as Turkey insists Israel apologize for IDF raid that killed nine Turks in Gaza flotilla last year, the two sides will not be able to mend diplomatic relations.

Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday that he does not see a possibility for reconciliation between Israel and Turkey in light of Ankara's insistence that Israel apologize for the deadly Israel Defense Forces raid on a Gaza-bound which killed nine Turkish activists last year.

"The stubbornness of the Turks cannot lead to reconciliation and I do not see any possibility to bridge the gap between the two sides," Yaalon said during a briefing with foreign journalists.


Yaalon, who has recently conducted three rounds of talks with Turkish representatives in Geneva and New York, said that he does not believe Israel should comply with Turkey's demands that it should apologize, compensate the victims' families and end the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

"I thought the Turks will reconsider their stance toward Israel but this is not the case," he said. "We were ready from the beginning to reach a deal with the Turks and I told them that we are prepared to commiserate those killed in the IDF raid but we do not intend on apologizing, because that would mean taking responsibility for what has occurred. The IDF's Mavi Marmara operation was an act of self-defense."

The chief adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Haaretz on Wednesday that Turkey intends to normalize its relations with Israel across the board, but only if it meets Turkey's three conditions: an apology, compensation, and the end of the Gaza blockade.

Earlier Thursday, Haaretz reported that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has advised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel should apologize to Turkey in order to avoid lawsuits against IDF soldiers, which may be prompted by the UN investigation into the 2010 flotilla incident, according to officials in Jerusalem.

The sources added that Weinstein believes that if Turkey promises not to file lawsuits against IDF soldiers and officers that took part in the Marmara interception, Israel should consider apologizing for operational mistakes and misuse of force. The suggested apology would be a general one, and would not apply to stopping the flotilla or the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Although the UN investigation is expected to find the naval blockade legal, it is likely to determine that the Israeli commando soldiers used excessive force while intercepting the ship. The investigation mentions autopsy reports which claim that the activists killed were shot several times.