Lieberman: Israel's Rejection of Apology to Turkey Came Too Late

FM tells Channel 2 that the fact it took Israel so long to decide it will not apologize over the Gaza flotilla raid shows it lacks confidence.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman praised the decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday not to apologize to Turkey for last year's Gaza flotilla raid, but said Israel should have done so earlier.

"It is a shame that we did not make this decision earlier," Lieberman said in an interview to Channel 2 television on Wednesday. "The fact that it took us some time reflects our lack of confidence."

Lieberman and Erdogan - Fattal and Reuters
Michal Fattal, Reuters

Earlier on Wednesday, Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that Israel will not apologize for the deadly raid on the Gaza-bound ship the Mavi Marmara in 2010, which killed nine Turkish activists.

An official in Jerusalem said that Netanyahu told Clinton that Israel does not oppose the publication of the report of the Palmer Committee, which investigated the events surrounding the flotilla, but that the date of the report's release depends on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in response that there will be no improvement in ties with Israel unless it apologizes for the Gaza flotilla raid.

"If the Palmer Report does not contain an apology, both sides and the United States know what we will do," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference in Istanbul, without elaborating.

"Israel is facing a choice: deeper relations with Turkey or open a gap with the Turkish state that will not be overcome very easily," he said.

The Mavi Marmara was part of an activist flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza when it was boarded by Israeli marines on the Mediterranean high seas on May 31, 2010. The marines shot dead nine Turks, including a dual U.S. citizen, during fierce deck brawls.