Defense Minister Barak: Israel and Turkey Will Not Become Enemies

Barak says crisis could soon pass, believes Palestinians can still be convinced to withdraw UN statehood vote later this month.

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Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday he believes the crisis with Turkey is about to pass, and that the two countries are not about to become enemies.

In an interview to Israel Radio, Barak reiterated his regret for the loss of life on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship last year, yet defended the Israel Defense Forces use of force.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz at the site of Thursday's attacks, August 18, 2011.Credit: Ariel Harmoni, Defense Ministry

Barak also spoke of the Palestinian bid to receive recognition for a Palestinian statehood at the UN in September, saying he believes it is still possible to convince the Palestinian leadership to withdraw their move.

Last Monday, Turkey informed Israel's top diplomat in Ankara that nearly all senior Israeli embassy personnel must leave the country.

The recent crisis in Israel-Turkey relations deepened after the UN-commissioned report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid was leaked to the New York Times, foiling a last-ditch effort to patch up relations between the two countries. Turkey then announced a series of measures against Israel, beginning with the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and the downgrading of bilateral relations to the level of second secretary.

Also on Monday, some 40 Israelis on board a Turkish Airlines flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul were separated from the rest of the passengers upon arrival in Turkey and were questioned at length by Turkish police, marking a highly unusual event against the backdrop of a deepening diplomatic crisis.



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