Israel to Turkey: Admit IDF Raid on Gaza Flotilla Had No Malicious Intent

Request is part of the latest Israeli-Turkish discussions aimed at ending their diplomatic crisis, which focus on an Israeli apology in exchange for return of Turkish envoy to Tel Aviv.

Israel has demanded that Turkey admit that the Israel Defense Forces raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla had no malicious intent, a condition which is part of the recent endeavor between Israel and Turkey to reach an agreement to put an end to the crisis in their relations.

The discussions between Israeli and Turkish officials in Geneva are continuing, and a senior Israeli official has said that the focus of the deliberations is the particular wording of the Israeli apology for the IDF raid on the Gaza-bound ship the Mavi Marmara, which killed nine Turkish citizens.

"We are looking for wording that would clarify that during the overtaking of the Gaza flotilla, Israel did not act out of malice," said the Israeli official.

Israel's representative on the UN panel investigating the Gaza-bound flotilla incident, Yosef Ciechanover, met for the second time on Monday with senior Turkish diplomat Feridun Sinirlioglu.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The discussions centered around a formula that would have Israel apologize for the incident and arrange for compensation for the dead and injured Turkish citizens, and in exchange Turkey would return its ambassador to Tel Aviv and announce the "normalization" of ties between Israel and Turkey.

An Israeli source close to the talks said that the discussions are at a particularly sensitive place at the moment, wherein the two sides need to present their ideas to prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Recep Tayyip Erdogan to receive further instructions.

Israeli officials fear that Netanyahu will find it hard to pass such an agreement before his cabinet, in light of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's reservations regarding an Israeli apology for the Gaza flotilla raid.

Moreover, it is also still unclear whether Erdogan will agree to the draft of understandings. As part of the agreement, Israel wants Turkey to stop carrying out anti-Israeli activities in various international forums regarding the Gaza flotilla. It is uncertain whether Erdogan will agree to this request.

If the two sides do reach an agreement, it would most probably turn the United Nations committee investigating the events of the Gaza flotilla to superfluous.

The senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue, stated that the fact that the government of Turkey sent firefighting aircraft to the Carmel fire was what encouraged Prime Minister Netanyahu to initiate discussions over ending the diplomatic rift between the two countries.

"An opportunity presented itself to improve the relations," the senior official stated. "Prime Minister Netanyahu sees the improvement of relations with Turkey as having great importance, but he is determined to ensure that Israeli soldiers and officers will not be exposed to lawsuits and indictments around the world."