Lieberman: Israel's Apology to Turkey Was a Great Mistake

After Turkey withdraws from Munich security conference to avoid Israeli delegation, foreign minister blasts Ankara – and Netanyahu.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Lieberman in Tel Aviv, February 5, 2015.
Lieberman in Tel Aviv, February 5, 2015.Credit: AFP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel's Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, after Turkey's foreign minister pulled out of a security conference in Munich because an Israeli minister was due to attend.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier on Friday that he did not wish to attend a joint session with an Israeli delegation, headed by Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz.

In a statement, Lieberman said that Turkey's decision "proves once again what a great mistake it was to apologize to Turkey" over the Gaza flotilla deaths in 2010. It was Netanyahu who phoned Erdogan in March 2013 to apologize for the flotilla deaths.

Lieberman added that as long as Turkey is ruled by the current leadership headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, there is no chance of mending ties with Israel. "Erdogan's Turkey is a country that wishes only to attack and to goad Israel," he said, and Israel must act accordingly "and safeguard Israeli interests."

Minister Steinitz also released a statement criticizing the Turkish decision. "Israel will take part in any international conference whether Turkey likes it or not," he said. The Turkish boycott, he said, shows it identifies with radical Islam "and with terror groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas." More than the decision hurts Israel, he concluded, "it casts a heavy shadow on Turkey's future and character."

Earlier on Friday, Cavusoglu told a news conference in Berlin that he "was going to attend the conference but we decided not to after they added Israeli officials to the Middle East session at the last minute."

The security conference is attended by top world leaders, diplomats and defense officials. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was already in Munich on Friday following talks in Kiev the day before, and was planning on meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif ahead of the opening of the three-day conference.

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