Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon: Israel minister rules out flotilla apology to Turkey


Source: AFP, 7-21-11

Israel will not “take responsibility” for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals by apologising to Ankara over its botched 2010 raid on a ferry heading for Gaza, a senior cabinet minister said on Thursday.

“We are not ready to apologise, as apologising is taking responsibility,” Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters in Jerusalem.

“There is no room in my mind for any kind of apology that means taking responsibility,” he said of the pre-dawn raid on a six-vessel flotilla that attempted to sail to Gaza in May 2010 in a bid to break Israel’s naval embargo.

Yaalon’s comments come after several failed attempts by Israel and Turkey to patch up ties that frayed almost to breaking point after commandos stormed the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara ferry that was leading the flotilla.

He said Turkish representatives continued to insist that relations could only be restored if Israel apologised for the raid, compensated the families of those killed and the injured, and lifted its blockade on the Gaza Strip.

“We tried very hard to bridge the gap … (but) as long as they insist on this position I can’t see any agreement between the two sides,” he said.

“We are ready to regret the loss of lives, we are ready to create a kind of humanitarian voluntary fund,” he said, explaining that if such a fund were set up by Ankara, Israel would be prepared to pay money into it.

But he said there would be no official apology nor direct compensation offered to the families of those killed and the injured.

“A voluntary fund is acceptable, but compensation … means that you are responsible.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has repeatedly said the Jewish state will not apologise for the raid, although privately officials acknowledge that upgrading relations with Ankara would be desirable.

Media reports suggest there is increasing pressure on both sides for a final agreement that would restore once-strong ties between the two countries…. READ MORE

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