Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that his country will not normalize its relations with Israel as long as Israel does not apologize for the killing of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists during the takeover of the Mavi Marmara ship last year.
Erdogan, who spoke at the Palestinian Ambassadors Conference in Istanbul, added Israel should compensate the families of those killed and end the blockade of the Gaza Strip. "No belief can make killing innocent people legitimate," Erdogan said. "I salute the Palestinians, and those who are dedicated to the Palestinian cause. I remember the nine martyrs who were killed by Israeli soldiers in May 2009, and I hope God will have mercy on their souls."
The Turkish prime minister said Turkey supports the Palestinian intention to seek UN recognition in September, and that the entire world should take action in order to remove the Gaza blockade. He added that Israel should accept the fact that East Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state. "Israel cannot stop the Palestinian people from creating a state," he said.
On Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for his inclination to agree to an Israeli apology to Turkey.
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.
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