Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Israel news photo: Flash 90 / archive

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reiterated Tuesday that “Israel is guilty and should pay for its crime” before relations can be restored between the two countries.

Speaking on a television program regarding Turkish-Israeli relations, Davutoglu accused Israel of attempting to use psychology to frame Turkey as avoiding talks over their differences.

“Recently, foreign ministers of other countries have all brought messages from Israel that it is ready to repair relations,” Davutoglu was quoted by the Turkish daily newspaperTodays Zaman. “Israel is trying to make Turkey look uncompromising, as if it continuously rejects Israel,” the Turkish foreign minister said.

Instead, he insisted, Israel's leadership should take the steps Turkey expects, instead of sending messages through statements to the media and foreign officials.

Turkey is angry at Israel over the death of eight Turkish nations and an American citizen who were killed in a clash with IDF commandos in May 2010. The incident occurred aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-owned vessel that participated in an illegal attempt by a flotilla to breach Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza.

The vessel, allegedly bearing humanitarian aid, was later found to be carrying none whatsoever in its hold. Its “activists,” armed with clubs, iron bars and knives, instantly attacked Israeli soldiers as they boarded. Three were kidnapped and several others were seriously wounded, including one in critical condition, as they attempted to take control of the vessel to redirect it to Ashdod port after its captain had ignored repeated requests to change course. During the clash, soldiers defending themselves and their comrades killed nine of the “activist” attackers.

Since the incident, Israel has made numerous attempts to resolve the matter between the two governments. Relations had already begun to deteriorate by the winter of 2008-2009, when Israel was forced to conduct a 3-week counter-terror mini-war, Operation Cast Lead against the Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza in order to silence the incessant rocket fire aimed from the region at southern Israeli civilians on a daily basis.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vehemently opposed the operation and strongly supported Hamas throughout the war. Just a few weeks later, he verbally crossed swords with Israeli President Shimon Peres over the conflict at the World Economic Forum in Davos and then stormed out of the session, further widening the divide between the two countries.

This past August, an Israeli delegation traveled to Turkey to speak with Turkish lawmakers in the hopes of finding a way to bridge the gap between the two countries. The delegation included two Shas Mks, Bar Ilan University lecturer and IDF Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, top Israeli and international rabbis, and an Israeli journalist. The group met with members of the ruling AK party as well as with the head of the CHP opposition party for talks arranged by Istanbul-based Turkish Islamic scholar and interfaith activist Adnan Oktar.