Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he wants to open a “new page” in his country’s relations with Israel, but refuses to apologize for the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
Erdogan’s comments were made in an interview with Channel 2 News journalist Ilana Dayan, which will air in full on Monday and of which excerpts were released on Sunday. It is the Turkish President’s first interview to an Israeli media outlet since before his country cut ties with Israel.
The ties between Israel and Turkey were cut off in 2010 after Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, a Gaza-bound ship which was trying to the naval blockade of Gaza.
When the ship refused orders to turn back and dock at the Ashdod Port so that its contents can be expected, the soldiers boarded the ship and were violently attacked by the Islamist extremists on board with clubs and knives.
The IDF soldiers had no choice but to open fire in order to defend themselves, which resulted in the deaths of 10 on board the ship.
Upon inspection it was discovered that there was no humanitarian aid whatsoever aboard the Marmara.
In the interview with Dayan, Erdogan called to leave past tensions with Israel behind, but continued to insist that the IDF soldiers attacked the Mavi Marmara without being provoked first – even after Dayan showed him the videos showing the Islamists on board attacking the officers.
“It’s all lies,” the Turkish leader said. “We have in hand all the documents and the evidence regarding the takeover of the Mavi Marmara by the Israeli soldiers, in international waters.”
“Ten of our brothers were martyred [on the ship],” he claimed, and told Dayan, “You cannot speak correctly. The fact that you are a journalist does not prevent you from speaking correctly.”
As part of the reconciliation deal with Turkey, Israel paid $20 million in compensation to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident.
However, despite the reconciliation deal and despite the compensation, the families of the Turkish Islamists who died on the ship recently vowed to pursue criminal cases against the Jewish state.