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Lieberman. 'Ball in Turkeys court'
Photo: Noam Moskowitz
Barak. 'Need more time;
Photo: Yaron Brener
Lieberman: No reason to apologize to Turkey
Cabinet ministers set to discuss last year's flotilla raid before UN committee issues Palmer Report

The forum of eight ministers is scheduled to discuss the Palmer Report by a UN committee investigating last year's flotilla events on Sunday. The report is slated to be issued this week. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is against apologizing to Turkey for the deaths of nine activists, which Ankara is demanding in exchange for normalizing bilateral relations.

 

"I'm in favor of improving relations but this should not be at the expense of Israel alone," he said prior to Sunday's cabinet meeting. "It's in the interest of both countries to improve relations and the ball is in Turkey's court. There is no reason for Israel to apologize, there are soldiers who were sent to do their job mid-sea."

 

 

Lieberman claimed the issue will not cause a coalition crisis, even if an apology is offered. "This government has a lot more to do on the Turkish issue, as well as in the housing issue and others. We do not negotiate via the media."

 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also addressed the report: "I hope we won't have to answer these questions this week and that we have more time to fully examine the matter. It is our business to protect officers, commanders and soldiers from possible overseas lawsuits."


IDF soldiers descend on Marmara (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

 

Though the Palmer committee will only be presenting its findings to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon later this week, reports from earlier this month claimed that its members, international experts and representatives from turkey and Israel, determined that though the IDF used excessive force, the operation itself was legitimate.

 

The report's release was postponed by three weeks due to Turkey's refusal to accept its findings. An attempt to bridge the gaps between Jerusalem and Ankara in order to lessen the emphasis on support for Israel and criticism of Turkey – proved futile.

 

Minister Moshe Ya'alon said he did not see any possibility for reconciliation with Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

 

National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau placed the blame on Turkey. "Turkey should be the one apologizing for being involved in the Marmara provocation and all signs show it is behind the IHH terror organization."

 

Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz also does not believes Israel should apologize. "We did not endorse violent action against the Turks and there is no room for compensation or lawsuits against IDF soldiers."

 

Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report

 

 

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