Experts: Israel will not apologize for incidents around 'flotilla of freedom' as required by Turkey

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 1 / Trend U. Sadikhova /

Although the recent statements by the Turkish leadership indicate that the U.S. agrees that Israel would apologize for the incidents around the "flotilla of freedom", experts doubt that Benjamin Netanyahu's government will do it.

"I do not think there is any chance Netanyahu will apologize for the Gaza flotilla incident.  At most he might state in a general way that he is sorry for the loss of life, but I do not expect him to apologize for Israeli actions, although, perhaps, compensation to the families of the victims can be quietly arranged," Professor of Middle East History, Trinity University, David Lesch, told Trend via e-mail. 

Turkish Prime Minister, after returning from Canada where he met with U.S. President Barack Obama, said that Ankara and Washington agreed that Israel should apologize for the attack on the Turkish humanitarian ship 'Mavi Marmara', routing to Gaza, and pay compensation to the families of the victims, TRT Russian service reported.

Erdogan's statements were made a week before the talks at the White House between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama.

"We have clearly expressed our concerns over this issue," said Prime Minister Erdogan, expressing hope that the meeting will yield positive results.
However, experts hold a different opinion.

Former Israeli Deputy Defence Minister, MK General Ephraim Sneh sees no reason that Israel has to apologize at the present stage, when the country has launched a national committee chaired by supreme judge to investigate incidents on the Turkish ship.

"So I don't think that there is a sense to everyone to ask for apology or anything else before this committee will complete its work. Such a request is not in correct time," Sneh, former minister of health and transport of Israel in 2000s, told Trend by telephone.

Israeli general thinks that Obama-Netanyahu meeting, to be conducted during period of diplomatic tensions between Israel and Turkey, has some more important issues than flotilla.

Meeting of state heads was to be held on June 1, but was postponed after May 31 clashes between Israeli commandos and Turkish human rights activists during an attempt to inspect a Turkish ship in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. The victims of the incident were ten people, nine of whom are Turkish citizens.

Unlike other countries, Washington refrained from direct criticism of Israel and supported the decision to conduct an investigation by the Israeli authorities, but not by international organizations as Turkey required.  

"He has not given into pressures from the Obama administration to date, so why should he start now?" Lesch said. 

The Obama administration may share Mr. Erdogan his position that Israel should apologize to Turkey, but I suspect that the U.S. administration will pressure Israel to do that, Mohammad Yaghi said.

"What will force Israel to comply with Turkey's demand is not the U.S. pressure, but the Turkish sanctions against Israel which have started by pulling Ankara Ambassador from Tel Aviv and denying Israel military air planes from flying in Turkey's air space," Yaghi said.

Two countries formally preserve military-trade cooperation despite crisis in bilateral relations.

For Obama, I think he will try very hard to at least somewhat repair fractured Israeli-Turkish relations to keep Israel from being too isolated in the region and to keep the Turks from moving too far into an alliance consisting of Iran and Syria, Lesch said.

For two years, Turkey, one of the NATO countries, was able to establish a trust relationship with the Arab countries, abolishing the visa regime and signing an agreement on free trade corridor.

"Continued tension between the two countries serves neither country's interests, and in fact, it flies in the face of Ahmed Davutdoglu's strategy of "Zero-Problems Neighborhood"," Center for Global Affairs, New York University, professor Alon Ben-Meir said.

Even if there were to be pressure from the United States, which is unlikely, Israel will simply not heed to it because the Israelis feel that they were provoked and Israeli soldiers had no intention of killing anyone, and most certainly not the Turkish citizens.

"From the Israeli perspective, though the death of the nine Turks was tragic, it was out of self-defense, and therefore there is no room for an apology," U.S leading analyst on Middle East Alon Ben-Meir told Trend.

From my perspective, it should be made clear that Israel and Turkey should think about long-term strategic-interest. This is not only because of the importance of their relations with each other, but also because of the broader impact of their relationship on the region, Alon Ben-Meir said.

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