National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror confirmed on Saturday night that the situation in Syria was the main reason for Israel’s apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident.
“The Middle East has changed,” he told Channel 2 News. “Between us and Turkey there is a state with chemical stockpiles that may get into hostile hands and Turkey has an interest to prevent this from happening, as does Israel.”
Amidror claimed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s phone call to Turkey did not come as a result of U.S. pressure.
"There was no American pressure,” he said. “It was our idea. We came to the Americans and they helped us with the initiative. We have been holding talks with the Turks for quite some time, and if the Turks had not made mistakes along the way it might have ended earlier. The U.S. mediation certainly helped the fact that we brought the conflict to an end with the conclusion of Obama's visit to Israel.”
As for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's anti-Israel statements over the past few years, Amidror said, "I do not believe that he will continue to attack Israel as he did before. If he was interested in continuing to attack Israel he would not have accepted Israel's demands to cancel the lawsuits against IDF soldiers and appoint an ambassador to Israel."
According to Amidror, the restoration of relations with Turkey will give Israel leeway to act against the threats coming from Syria.
"Once the relationship with Turkey will return to normal, the Turks will lose their desire to harm the relationship between Israel and NATO," he explained.
Earlier Saturday night, Netanyahu explained in his Facebook page why he chose to apologize to Erdogan.
"After three years of a disconnect in Israeli-Turkish relations," he wrote, "I decided that this is the time to rebuild them."
"The changing reality around us forces us to continually reexamine our relations with the countries surrounding us in the region. In the last three years, the state of Israel has made several attempts to end the disconnect between us and Turkey.
"The fact that the crisis in Syria is getting worse by the minute was, for me, a central consideration,” said Netanyahu.
Former deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon told Kol Yisrael radio Saturday that two years ago, Israel offered an identical formula for solving the crisis over the Mavi Marmara incident, but Erdogan had refused to be content with an apology delivered over the telephone.
Ayalon estimated that Erdogan decided to become more flexible because of the mistake he made last month, when he called Zionism "a crime against humanity" and received sharp international criticism.