Lieberman Deplores Netanyahu for Leaning Toward Apology to Turkey

FM responds to reports that PM got legal advice that apologizing would forestall Turkish efforts to prosecute IDF soldiers, says Israel is showing weakness and inability to withstand pressure.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for his inclination to agree to an Israeli apology to Turkey over the deadly IDF raid on a Gaza-bound ship last year.

During a discussion of ministers from Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party, he responded to an earlier report that Netanyahu had received legal advice from the Attorney General that apologizing would forestall Turkish efforts to issue indictments against IDF soldiers involved in the Gaza flotilla raid in 2010.

lieberman - Emil Salman - June 17 2011
Emil Salman

"The use of legal arguments to justify an apology to Turkey shows an inability to withstand pressure," Lieberman said. "This is not a legal problem but a diplomatic one. This is irresponsibility on the part of the political echelon."

Lieberman stressed that an apology to Turkey would be surrendering to Ankara.

"If we wanted to apologize, we would have done so right after the flotilla. Israel is showing weakness, embarrassment, and an inability to withstand pressure," he said.

Earlier Thursday, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that he does not see a possibility for reconciliation between Israel and Turkey due to Ankara's insistence that Israel apologize, saying that Israel will not apologize or compensate the victims' families.

Meanwhile, according to Jerusalem officials, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein believes the UN investigation into the 2010 flotilla incident might prompt lawsuits against IDF soldiers. Therefore, he recommended Netanyahu reaching an understanding with Turkey, even if that means issuing an apology.

The officials 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.