Barak reiterated his government's line that Israel would not apologise
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, pictured in July, played down the diplomatic crisis with Ankara on Thursday, saying the current dispute over a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish-led flotilla "will pass." © Stan Honda - AFP/File
Barak reiterated his government's line that Israel would not apologise
AFP
Last updated: September 8, 2011

Israel: Crisis with Turkey will pass

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak played down the diplomatic crisis with Ankara on Thursday, saying the current dispute over a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish-led flotilla "will pass."

But he reiterated his government's line that Israel would not apologise for the May 2010 operation which targeted a flotilla of ships trying to break Israel's naval blockade on Gaza, and cost the lives of nine Turkish nationals.

"The current wave will pass, I am sure that we will get over all this," he told public radio just days after Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador and suspended all military ties and defence trade.

"Turkey is not an enemy of Israel."

"Both we and the Turks know the reality: our two countries are very important to the West. The real problem for the West in this region is Syria, and what is happening in Egypt and Iran, not Turkey," he added.

The minister admitted once again that "errors may have occurred in the way in which force was used" when naval commandos boarded the Turkish ferry leading the flotilla.

But Barak stressed that Israel had already expressed its "regret" over the loss of human life without making the formal apology that Turkey has demanded.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday insisted he wanted to mend the split with Turkey but also praised forces who took part the naval operation.

The diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel that was sparked by the flotilla raid took a turn for the worse in the last week, following publication of a UN probe into the incident, which found Israel's naval blockade to be legal although it chastised the Jewish state for using "excessive" force in the raid.

Israel has so far refused to apologise for the bloodshed and called the report's conclusions a vindication of its stance, deeply angering Turkey.

Turkey responded to the report by expelling Israel's ambassador, suspending military agreements with the Jewish state and warning it was considering lodging a legal case against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

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