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Friday, March 22, 2013

Israel apologizes to Turkey for "operational errors" on Mavi Marmara (UPDATE)

From WSJ:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized Friday to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a raid on a Turkish flotilla ship, a move that will help restore strained ties between the countries.

The incident was a subject of talks between Mr. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama during the president's trip to Israel this week, officials said.

Senior U.S. administration officials said that Mr. Erdogan accepted the apology, describing the phone call between the two leaders as the "first step toward normalization of relations" between Turkey and Israel.

The 2010 raid killed nine passengers, and Mr. Erdogan has long sought an apology. The incident was a subject of talks between Mr. Netanyahu and President Barack Obama during the president's trip to Israel this week, officials said.

Mr. Netanyahu met Mr. Obama at the airport before he departed Israel Friday, and the Israeli prime minister placed the call to Turkey from a trailer there, speaking to Mr. Erdogan for about 30 minutes. Mr. Obama also spoke to Mr. Erdogan, officials said.

In a statement, Mr. Obama said he welcomed the call between Israeli and Turkish leaders.

"The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security," Mr. Obama said. "I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities."
This sounds like it might have been one of the objectives of the Obama visit.

JTA reports on the Israeli statement:
"The Prime Minister made it clear that the tragic results regarding the Mavi Marmara were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life," said the statement from Netanyahu's office. "In light of the Israeli investigation into the incident, which pointed out several operational errors, Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation."

....The statement concluded by saying that "The two leaders agreed to continue to work on improving the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories."
I wonder if the US arm-twisted Erdogan as well as Netanyahu.

Recently, a Turkish Red Crescent aid shipment was allowed into Gaza through Israel, in a story that the media missed.

UPDATE: From Hurriyet Daily News:
The Turkish Prime Ministry issued a statement, saying the two prime ministers had agreed to conclude agreements on compensation and non-liability over the Mavi Marmara flotilla raid, Anatolia news agency has reported.

"Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has issued his apologies on behalf of his state and the Turkish prime minister has accepted his apology in the name of the Turkish people," the statement said.

"Restrictive measures over the entrance of goods into the Palestinian Authority's territories have been lifted starting today, and this position will be maintained as long as tranquility is preserved,” the statement said.
I am not sure what exactly the last paragraph means, as the only restrictions I'm aware of are things that can make bombs and the quantities that can be physically sent through Kerem Shalom every day, something that Israel has been working to increase.