Israel seeks calm with Turkey, but not at any price

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Israel wants to calm a fierce row that has erupted with one-time ally Turkey over a 2010 raid on an aid flotilla, but not at any cost, including issuing an apology, ministers and officials said Sunday. In recent days, ties between the once-friendly nations appear to have plumbed new depths, with Ankara expelling Israel’s ambassador and suspending military agreements in the wake of a UN report on the deadly 2010 raid.
Nine Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli commandos boarded the six-boat flotilla in a bid to stop it breaching a blockade on Gaza, and Israel has rejected Ankara’s calls for an apology, compensation and an end to the blockade.
In Israel, ministers and officials were at pains to stress they had no desire to see relations with Turkey deteriorate.
“Israel never wanted its relations with Turkey to deteriorate and Israel still does not want the relations to deteriorate,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet at a meeting on Sunday morning. “Israel has no interest in an escalation with Turkey, on the contrary,” Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, a Netanyahu confidant, added in remarks to public radio.
But the rhetoric coming from Ankara has grown increasingly strident, particularly in the light of leaked details of a long-awaited UN report on Israel’s deadly raid on the Turkish-led aid flotilla.
The report, leaked Thursday, found Israel used excessive force in dealing with the activists on board the ships, including from the Turkish IHH organisation, but endorsed Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Turkey rejected the report and said it would seek to lodge a case against Israel over the raid at the International Criminal Court at the Hague.
The report had been delayed multiple times in a bid to allow Ankara and Israel to determine a formula by which they could patch up their differences.