JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s prime minister said Israel will not apologize to Turkey for the interception of a Gaza-bound ship or the loss of life on board.
However, Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview on Israeli national television Monday night, Israel would express its regret.
"We need to understand that they want an apology and, of course, we do not want to apologize. We are prepared to express regret as we expressed it over the loss of life," Netanyahu said during an interview on Israel Channel 10. "But what do we want? We want one thing. We want – first of all – to protect our soldiers and commanders. They are being accused of war crimes. They could be arrested worldwide. First of all, we want this to stop. And there should be Turkish recognition that Israel did not act maliciously and that IDF soldiers acted out of self-defense."
He continued: "There is still no compromise formula. We are continuing to try, and I think that it is our interest to try to resolve this. I think that public remarks on this issue are not helpful."
The interview came after inflammatory statements from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who on Sunday called Turkey’s continued insistence on an apology from Israel for the incident "beyond rude." Lieberman said that Turkey should apologize to Israel for supporting terrorists.
He was responding to comments made the previous day by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who said that Turkey "has the will to make peace with Israel," but was unable to, since it is "very difficult to establish political will in Israel."
Turkey and Israel began discussing reestablishing ties earlier this month after Turkey sent assistance to Israel in battling the Carmel fire.