Daily Israel Report

Poll: Israelis Believe Apology to Turkey Was a Mistake

71% of Israelis believe Israel's apology to Turkey was not justified, finds new poll.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/9/2013, 5:44 AM

Turkey tourism booth
Turkey tourism booth
Yoni Kempinski

The diplomatic dispute between Israel and Turkey may have come to an end earlier this year when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the May 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, but a new poll shows that trust between the two nations has yet to recover.

According to the poll, which was commissioned by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and appeared on Monday in the Israel Hayom daily, 85% of Israelis say the chances of their going on vacation to Turkey in the near future are very low.

Only 28% of Israelis believe that relations between Israel and Turkey under Erdogan will improve in the near future, while 42% think relations will stay the same and 30% believe they will deteriorate further.

Most Israelis (71%) believe Israel's apology to Turkey was not justified, while only 29% think it was, the poll found.

The poll was conducted by Maagar Mochot over the phone on June 16-19, with 605 participants aged 18 and above.

Under pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama, Netanyahu apologized in March to Erdogan for the deaths of the nine Turks in the 2010 flotilla.

Netanyahu, in addition to the apology, agreed to compensate the families of the nine Turks, while Erdogan promised to cancel the legal proceedings his country launched against IDF officials.

The nine died when Israeli commandos staged a raid on a six-ship flotilla seeking to violate Israel's naval blockade of Gaza on May 31, 2010.

They died on the Mavi Marmara, which refused Israeli orders to dock at the Ashdod Port. When the ship refused, the commandos boarded it, encountering violence from the members of the IHH organization who were on board and who attacked them with clubs and knives. The soldiers had no choice but to open fire.

Reports in April indicated that Israeli and Turkish officials have made progress in talks on compensation for the Marmara incident, but a deal is yet to be finalized.

One of the flotilla participants from the Mavi Marmara has already indicated he would give all the compensation money he receives to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.

Meanwhile, relations between Israel and Turkey are still strained. Erdogan recently asserted that Israel is happy about the protests against him at Taksim Square in Istanbul.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay claimed last week that the “Jewish Diaspora” and “foreign powers” are behind recent unrest in Turkey.

Facing a firestorm of worldwide outrage, Atalay later said, “I do not make any statement that hurts Jews ... I very carefully select the words.”