Despite Israel’s apology to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara incident and the talks on compensation to the victims, Turkey is continuing to make reconciliation between the two countries difficult.
On Wednesday, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that his country will not be satisfied with Israel simply paying compensation to the Marmara victims. The Jewish state, he said, must acknowledge that the money it is paying to the victims is a result of its committing a wrongful act.
“In our first meeting [the Israelis] showed no opposition to this. But in the second meeting, they intended to give an ex gratia payment as a form of reparation because they fear compensation [as a result of their wrongful act] will set an example for other cases, which is not a concern to us,” Arinc was quoted by the Turkish daily Hurriyet as having told Ankara bureau chiefs.
“The amount of money is not the problem,” Arinc explained, according to the Hurriyet. “There are two problematic areas. The first one is that Israel should accept that it’s paying this money as a result of its wrongful act. Nothing less than this will be accepted. And second, we are waiting for them to realize our third condition of cooperating with Turkey in making life conditions easier for Palestinians. We are not talking about the amount of money as our first two conditions have not been met.”
He added, “We are not going to rush for the money. Israel has to accept its wrongful act. Otherwise we will not say ‘yes’ to them.”
Under pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized in March to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the deaths of 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 Turks 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 have 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.
If an agreement can be reached between Turkey and Israel, said Arinc, it will be brought to Parliament as an international agreement and will have an effect on ongoing cases opened against the Israeli state by the victims’ families.
“There cannot be two separate legal attempts to seek compensation. If the governments agree, it will cover [the victims’] demand for compensation as well,” he explained.
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.
A poll released earlier this month found that Israelis are unhappy with the apology to Turkey. 85% of respondents said 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.