Photo: Gil Yohanan
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday he does not believe Israel should offer Turkey an official apology for the tragic outcome of the raid on the first Gaza flotilla.
Lieberman, whose position is contrary to that of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, said that "There are some things I'm willing to discuss and some things I'm not willing to discuss. I will not have an apology harm Israel's national dignity and I will not see IDF soldiers humiliated."
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Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon is currently on an official visit to the United States, where he is meeting with delegates from Ankara.
The results of a UN-named commission of inquiry into the events of the first flotilla are scheduled to be released this week. Israel and Turkey are struggling to phrase the report, as Ankara insists that Jerusalem offer an official apology.
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"We are all for ending the friction with Turkey… We have no territorial dispute with Turkey and we are willing to reach a compromise on the matter today, but an apology is not a compromise," the foreign minister said. "It's humiliating and it will abandon IDF soldiers."
Speaking before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Lieberman stressed that Israel "regrets the death of activists from any country or organization. We know how far we are willing to go and we expect to see some willingness and flexibility on this compromise," he said.
Turning his attention to the recent debacle pertaining to the transfer of terrorists' remains to the Palestinian Authority, which was cancelled, Lieberman said that in his opinion, the matter should never have become part of the public discourse.
"This is not something that should be discussed by the public… I don't think Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) deserves any gestures by Israel."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he added, has "personally led some of the most offensive and despicable moves against the State of Israel, like trying to have IDF officers tried by the ICC.
"The same goes for his unilateral bid in the Security Council, which he is personally pushing for. He does not deserve any gesture. On the contrary. But that too will be decided on by the proper forums."
Elaborating on the Palestinian bid for statehood, the foreign minister said that Israel "is currently busy mapping out the nations that could help up achieve the 'moral majority' bloc. The Muslim nations bloc and the undecided nations make up about 130 nations and we don’t want to have any illusions.
"The North America nations and the European Union are important to us. It's important to us to convey the message that a unilateral step can only harm the peace process and any chance of reaching an acceptable agreement in the Middle East.
"We're trying to convince them… and we have successes too, like with the flotilla and the fly-in."
A unilateral Palestinian declaration will spell a unilateral response by Israel, he warned. "I wouldn’t want to find myself there. There are several unilateral responses Israel has prepared," he said.
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