|Israel’s prime minister had rejected comments by his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, ruling out apology [Reuters]|
Israel’s prime minister has said that his country will not apologise to Turkey for a May commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship that killed nine Turkish activists.
Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday that talks to mend ties have so far fallen short.
“They [Turkey] want an apology and we of course do not want to apologise,” he said in an interview on Israel’s Channel 10 television.
“We are prepared to express regret, as we have, on the loss of life”.
“We want one thing: Foremost to protect our soldiers and our commannders … that there will be Turkish recognition that Israel did not act with malice aforethought and that Israel’s soldiers acted in self defence,” Netanyahu said.
Breaking the silence
Netanyahu broke his silence after his ultra-nationalist coalition partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, poured scorn on Turkey’s demand that Israel apologise for the killing of its nine citizens aboard the ship.
“I’m sorry to say a redeeming compromise formula still has not been found. We are continuing to try but public talk on this matter does not help,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s relations with Turkey plummeted after Israeli soldiers stormed the Mavi Marmara ship on May 31, part of a convoy attempting to bring supplies to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Turkey has demanded that Israel formally apologise for the deaths of the activists. Envoys of the two countries met in Geneva earlier this month for rapprochement talks.
High-ranking Israeli and Turkish officials recently held two days of talks in Geneva aimed at mending ties after Turkey sent firefighters to help Israel fight a wildfire earlier this month.
The two countries built strong military and economic ties over the past 15 years, with Turkey becoming Israel’s closest ally in the Muslim world.
However, relations soured when Turkey’s government began to increasingly criticise Israel’s treatment of Palestinians