Ayalon: Time For Israel to Apologize to Turkey

Ayalon said he believes Israel should send a letter of apology to Turkey, saying it "will straighten things out between the two countries."

Annie Lubin,

Muslim extremists aboard the Mavi Marmara
Muslim extremists aboard the Mavi Marmara
Israel news photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet that he believes Israel should send a letter of apology to Turkey in regards to the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, saying it "would be an appropriate solution and will straighten things out between the two countries."

Ayalon said the current opportunity was ripe for Israel to apologize for the incident during which nine armed terror activists aboard the Turkish vessel were killed by IDF special forces, leading to the suspension of relations between Jerusalem and Ankara. 

"This is a creative way to solve our crisis," said Ayalon. "A letter similar to the one sent by the United States to Pakistan after the death of 24 Pakistani civilians in an attack that was carried out (by the US)".

When asked whether the letter should be one of apology, rather than one explaining and defending Israel's decisions, Ayalon said "Yes."

In December of last year, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also suggested that had he been prime minister at the time, he would have apologized to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara incident. 

“If I were prime minister, I would have apologized to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and the Turkish people because civilians lost their lives,” Olmert said.

In the past, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman emphasized to Turkey that Israel is ready to solve any outstanding disputes and mend relations between the country, but would not apologize for the flotilla raid. The May 2010 incident involved armed terror activists who attacked Israeli commandos in a clash aboard the Turkish-originated Mavi Marmara flotilla ship. Nine activists aboard the “humanitarian flotilla” bound for Gaza were killed during the clashes, which occurred after repeated Israeli navy requests to redirect their boats to the Ashdod port.

The incident caused Israel’s relationship with Turkey, already strained, to break down completely. Turkish leaders demanded an apology, but Israeli leaders refused, saying Israel had acted in self-defense.

Turkey plans to try four top IDF commanders for the Marmara raid.

Netanyahu told Turkish reporters several months ago that Turkey and Israel are looking for ways to normalize political relations.