Naftali Bennett: Turkish PM Trying to Make Israel Regret Apology Over Gaza Flotilla Deaths

Newly-appointed minister from Habayit Hayehudi says 'no country is doing Israel a favor by renewing diplomatic ties;' comments come days after Erdogan announced there would be no swift restoration of ties between the two countries.

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Naftali Bennett, the newly-appointed minister of industry, trade and labor, and chairman of Habayit Hayehudi, sharply criticized Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday for his comments regarding Israel over the last few days.

Referring to Israel's apology over the loss of life on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara in 2010, Bennett said: "It seems Erdogan is doing everything in his power to make Israel regret it, while conducting a personal and crude campaign at the expense of Israeli-Turkish ties."

Earlier this week, Erdogan suggested "normalization" of ties with Israel would take time, hinting that Turkey wanted to ensure the victims of a flotilla raid were compensated and Israel remained committed to the easing of restrictions of goods to Gaza before relations are restored between the two nations.

Erdogan's comments on Sunday came days after Prime Minister Netanyahu called the Turkish leader to apologize for the botched raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010 that killed eight Turks and one Turkish-American. Erdogan accepted the apology and both leaders said they would begin working to restore full relations.

But in a public address Sunday, Erdogan suggested there would be no quick restoration of ties.

"We have said: 'an apology will be made, compensation will be paid and the blockade on Palestine will be lifted. There will be no normalization without these," he said. "Normalization will happen the moment there is an implementation. But if there is no implementation, then I am sorry."

Bennett said that "no country is doing Israel a favor by renewing ties. Erdogan should also realize that if in the future we face terrorism directed at us, our response will be no less harsh."

Wednesday's comments by Bennett, which were posted on his Facebook page, also included a message to IDF soldiers: "Always do everything – but everything – to safeguard the lives of Israeli citizens. That is your duty."

Despite its highs and lows, Israel values relations with Turkey far more than those with Armenia: A billboard celebrating Netanyahu's 2013 apology to Erdogan for the Mavi Marmara affairCredit: AP
Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett.Credit: AP

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