Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon addressed on Tuesday the Palmer Report regarding the 2010 Freedom Flotilla and the ongoing reconciliation efforts with Turkey.
Ya’alon, who spoke at a conference of Likud activists, said, “We’ll meet with the Turks after the report is published. G-d forbid we apologize.”
Ya’alon added that “national honor is not a concept that came from the street but one that has a strategic significance. If we apologize and Erdogan later turns around and says he got us down on all fours apologizing, he will appear as the leader of the Middle East. He will never let go, even after we apologize.”
Turkey has demanded that Israel apologize for the deaths of nine IHH activists who were aboard the Mavi Marmara last year.
The ship was attempting to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and when it refused to turn to the Ashdod Port so that the aid it claimed it was carrying could be inspected by Israel, soldiers had no choice but to board the ship.
When the soldiers came onboard, they were attacked by the self-proclaimed ‘peace activists’ on the ship, who attacked them with clubs and attempted to kidnap them. It was only when the soldiers were in serious danger that they had to open fire at the activists.
“The Palmer committee clearly said that the blockade on Gaza is legal,” Ya’alon said. “There’s no siege on Gaza, no hunger, no humanitarian crisis, goods enter on a regular basis, shopping malls are open and they buy luxury cars.
“There is a security blockade on Gaza and therefore it is illegal to intercept it, that’s what the committee stated,” he added. “We’ve got answers to anything that the Turks have directed at us. The committee ruled in our favor and the Turks won’t accept it.”
Ya’alon’s comments are in line with ones recently made by other politicians. Earlier this week, Likud MK Danny Danon castigated Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in an opinion piece in the Washington Times.
“In fact, the Turkish government owes Israel an apology for this attack, along with other recent actions that have threatened the lives of Israeli citizens,” Danon wrote.
Turkey “should apologize for encouraging the sending, under false pretenses, of anti-Israel activists into the country’s sovereign territory,” he added. “These supposedly peaceful activists, who were in fact carrying a cache of illegal weapons, attacked Israeli soldiers without provocation.”
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau also recently rejected the Turkish demand that Israel apologize, saying, “If anyone should apologize, it’s Turkey for standing behind the provocative flotilla. It’s Turkey that needs to explain its connections with Hamas and other extremist Muslim groups. It’s Turkey that needs to explain its policy, not only to us but to the entire world.”