Israel will not apologize to Turkey, despite Clinton request


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will hold fast to its decision not to apologize to Turkey for its raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla ship, despite a direct request from the United States, Israeli officials reportedly said.

Israeli media are citing unnamed Israeli officials as saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turned down an Obama administration request to apologize to Turkey for the deaths of nine Turkish citizens, including one Turkish-American citizen, in a Navy commando raid on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010.

The findings of a United Nations inquiry into the incident are expected to be made public early next week. The Palmer report, whose publication was delayed by several weeks in order to give Turkey and Israel more time to reconcile, is reported — according to advance copies given to the two countries — to vindicate Israel for blockading the Gaza Strip.

Turkey has said it will not reconcile with Israel until Israel offers a formal apology and compensates the families of the victims; Israel has offered its "regret."

Meanwhile, Ynet reported that Jerusalem is concerned that Turkey will not approve Israel’s new ambassador to the country, who is scheduled to arrive in Ankara shortly after the release of the Palmer report. The term of the current ambassador, Gabby Levy, is scheduled to end in two weeks. Levy had been asked to extend his term for a second time, which does not require Turkey’s approval, according to Ynet, but he refused. 

Turkey withdrew its ambassador shortly after the flotilla incident.

Relations between Israel and Turkey had begun to deteriorate even before the flotilla incident, beginning with the one-month Gaza war that began in late December 2008. 

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