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Israel apologizes, agrees to pay compensation to buy ties with Turkey

Saturday March 23, 2013 12:09:44 PM, Agencies

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Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized Friday to Turkey for a deadly 2010 flotilla raid and agreed to pay compensation to the families of those killed in the attack in return of a full resumption of diplomatic ties between the two countries.


The apology was made during a breakthrough phone conversation between Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Rejeb Tayyip Erdogan that ends a nearly three-year bitter diplomatic rift.

The phone call was mediated by U.S. President Barack Obama during a visit to Israel that ended Friday.

“On behalf of Israelis he [Netanyahu] apologized for any deaths those operational mistakes might have caused,” a senior U.S. official said as he spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One shortly after departing for Jordan.

“Prime Minister Erdogan accepted the apology on behalf of Turkey,” he added, saying Obama had also spoken with the Turkish leader.

Israel and Turkey both confirmed the apology, with Netanyahu’s office announcing a resumption of full diplomatic ties between the former close allies.

Erdogan’s office issued a statement saying that the prime minister underlined the importance of strong cooperation and friendship between the Turkish and Jewish nations during the phone call.

The statement added that Netanyahu told Erdogan Israel had “substantially” lifted restrictions on entry of civilian goods into Palestinian territories, including Gaza.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have deteriorated since a United Nations report was made public in 2011 on the storming of a Turkish aid flotilla.

Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and froze military cooperation after the report failed to prompt an apology from Israel.

The report found Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip legal, but that Israel used unreasonable force when its commandos raided the ship, the Mavi Marmara, despite meeting strong resistance from those on board.

Obama says it’s important the two nations restore good relations so they can cooperate on regional security. The call comes on the final day of Obama’s trip to Israel.

The rift between Turkey and Israel continued for two years despite U.S. efforts to encourage a rapprochement between two regional powers, whose cooperation it needs to address changes sweeping the Middle East.



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