Uzi Landau
Uzi LandauYoni Kempinski

National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau on Monday rejected outright the Turkish demand that Israel apologize for killing nine Turkish citizens in the 2010 incident on the Mavi Marmara.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew-language news service, Landau said an Israeli apology would only harm its status and prestige in the world.

“If anyone should apologize, it’s Turkey for standing behind the provocative flotilla,” he said. “It’s Turkey that needs to explain its connections with Hamas and other extremist Muslim groups. It’s Turkey that needs to explain its policy, not only to us but to the entire world.

“Enough with these Israeli apologies,” added Landau. “If we apologize we will be presented as the ones responsible for what happened and we will be humiliated.”

Landau rejected the arguments that an Israeli apology will prevent Turkey from demanding that the naval commandos who boarded the Marmara be put on trial. He said he is convinced that even if Turkey does not stand behind these demands for prosecution of the commandos, it will do so through a third party. He added that the relations between Turkey and Israel have always depended on the Turks’ interests, noting that when the Turkish government sought to prove its ability to lead the Muslim world, it did so at Israel’s expense.

Referring to the position of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the apology, Minister Landau admitted that he does not know where Netanyahu stands.

“It is difficult to assess,” he said, adding that if Netanyahu ultimately agrees to apologize to Turkey, many ministers would find it hard to accept. “Whoever does not keep his honor, no one will keep his honor for him,” said Landau.

Landau’s comments came as Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reportedly considering downgrading diplomatic relations with Israel.

The Turkish Hurriyet newspaper reported Monday that Erdogan’s “Plan B” is to downgrade the level of Turkey’s diplomatic staff in Israel if Israel continues to refuse to apologize for the Mavi Marmara incident.

Meanwhile, the United Nations officially confirmed on Monday that the release of the Palmer Report on the Mavi Marmara incident would be postponed until late August.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky, who confirmed the delay, gave no specific date for when the report would be released.