Israel rebuffs Turkey’s demanded apology
“Israel will never apologize for defending its citizens,” the official told Agence France-Presse news agency, echoing remarks made last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Of course, we regret the loss of life, but it was not the Israeli side that initiated the violence,” he said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has vowed Ankara would sever diplomatic ties with Israel unless it apologized over the operation that left eight Turks and one American of Turkish descent dead.
But Israeli officials reacted angrily to Turkey’s threats. “When you want an apology, you don’t use threats or ultimatums,” Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said. “Everything leads us to believe that Turkey has another agenda in mind,” he said, without giving further details.
Turkey has closed its airspace to all Israeli military flights in response to the raid, Davutoğlu said, adding the closure could extend to civilian flights as well. The threat prompted a strong response from Israeli Transport Minister Yisrael Katz.
“If that happens we will take appropriate action and obviously ban Turkish airlines,” Katz told public radio, warning that a ban on civilian flights would have wider ramifications for Turkey.
“It would be a violation of European aviation regulations; it would harm all the companies that fly to Israel, not just Israeli companies,” he said.
On May 31, Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla of six ships carrying aid for the blockaded Gaza Strip. Israel says its commandos only used force to defend themselves after being ambushed.
“Our young servicemen have the right to defend themselves when their lives are in imminent danger,” the Israeli government official said. “They were compelled to defend themselves from a mob that tried to lynch them.” Katz said Israel would not free the Mavi Marmara for now.
Turkey’s hopes for an apology will go unanswered, said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. “We have no intention of apologizing. In fact, we think it should be the other way around,” he declared Monday.
A source quoted by Channel 10 news suggested that Turkey was hoping to break ties with Israel. “Someone who uses the language of ultimatums and threats isn’t seeking concession to his demands, but rather, an excuse to carry out his threats,” he said.
If Turkey does cut ties with Israel “it will boomerang back on Turkey’s ties with the West,” he warned.