Daily Israel Report

Ya'alon Says Turkey Doesn't Want Normalization

Defense Minister denounces 'political' court ruling asking Interpol to arrest Israeli military; FM sources downplay request.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 5/28/2014, 3:02 PM

Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe Ya'alon
Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday that the Turkish court ruling asking Interpol to arrest four Israeli military officials over the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident was "political," and shows Turkey is uninterested in normalizing relations.

"Of course we're not happy about it. It seems more political than legal," Ya'alon said while in the Jordan Valley on Tuesday, in remarks released by his office to AFP the following day.

"We were ready to set things right with Turkey and regulate relations with them. There is unfortunately no ripeness on the Turkish side to make things better, and this event is part of the campaign, which is being conducted for Turkish domestic political reasons, among others," argued Ya'alon.

In 2010 the Mavi Marmara tried to breach the IDF's legal blockade on Gaza, ruled by terrorist group Hamas. When IDF soldiers boarded the vessel, they were attacked by armed Islamist extremists on board, pressing them to open fire and kill ten Turkish nationals to save their own lives.

Israeli authorities discovered the ship to be carrying no humanitarian aid, contrary to the claimed "humanitarian" mission of the flotilla. The incident led to a fallout between Israel and Turkey, until US President Barack Obama pressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into apologizing last March to Turkey, beginning talks about compensation. Israel has reportedly offered as much as $20 million in "compensation."

Foreign Ministry sources reportedly told Maariv that Interpol was unlikely to agree to the Turkish court order calling for the arrests of former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, IAF intelligence chief Avishai Levi and naval forces commander Eliezer Marom.

"Interpol is a professional body that does not cooperate with political pranks," said one source.

The source opined that the Interpol request would "not have a significant effect on the efforts being made in the two countries to reach a reconciliation agreement, although the latest development in the trial will now serve as another factor that will delay its signing."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday claimed the ruling would not impact compensation negotiations, saying the court move was a decision by the families of the "martyrs."

Erdogan was caught on camera screaming an anti-Israel slur before sending his security forces to beat a protester at Soma two weeks ago, following the mining disaster in the town that left roughly 300 dead.