Turkey's Today's Zaman newspaper reported Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed
his wish to restore relations with Turkey and also discussed his love of Turkish coffee, but stressed: "We will not apologize for Marmara."
According to the Turkish daily, speaking with Turkish reporters in Jerusalem Netanyahu said: “In a region where instability reigns, Israel
are two quite stable countries. I believe in (our) common interest.” He also discussed the joint Turkish and Jewish history.
Later in the report a "high-level" official is quoted as saying that the two countries have been trying to find a magic formula to mend the bilateral ties, but as of yet the efforts remain fruitless. The official added that Israel is open to proposals from third parties regarding such a formula.
“The formula needs to not only appeal to both countries but it should also not harm the dignity of either country."
He then went on to discuss the Marmara incident
saying that it led to trauma in Israel, but he is of the opinion that it is important for the two countries to get over the trauma at this point. “Have a look at the developments in the region and you will see Israel and Turkey have common interests,” he noted.
The official noted that “Negotiations with Turkey have never been cut off. We still have open channels.” He then implied that the two countries continue to share intelligence through the US. “We share our concerns about chemical weapons
which may get into the hands of illegitimate groups.”
Sources at the Foreign Ministry were satisfied with Netanyahu and Minister Avigdor Lieberman's meetings with Turkish journalists. "Lieberman stressed we will not apologize, and yet the tone in the reports remained positive," a Foreign Ministry official said. "We are seeing a change in the Turkish public and media."
However, it remains unclear whether the meetings will affect bilateral relations. Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres is pressuring Netanyahu to restore relations with Ankara in the hopes this will grant Israel greater freedom vis-à-vis Iran.
"Israel is eager to reach understandings and establish a dialogue," the Foreign Ministry official said. "It is very important."