In his first meeting with a Turkish delegation since the 2010 IDF commando raid on the Gaza-bound "Mavi Marmara" vessel, which left eight Turkish nationals and a US citizen of Turkish descent dead, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that while the Jewish state is willing to resolve any outstanding disputes with Ankara, it has nothing to apologize for.
"(The Mavi Marmara mission) was a clear provocation and it was our right to protect the lives of our soldiers. Frankly speaking, Israel has no reason to apologize," he said during the July 22 meeting with Turkish reporters at his office in Jerusalem.
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"Even if Israel apologizes for the attack, that will change nothing," Israel's top diplomat said in the interview, which was published Moday by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.
"During his speeches in parliament, Mr. (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan has repeatedly said that an apology will not improve the relations and that (Turkey) has additional conditions. Turkey has a long (list of) other conditions, including the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, (returning) to the (pre-1967) border lines, compensation, et cetera. But this is not the best way to settle disagreements."
According to Lieberman, Israel is "really ready to discuss not only this issue (Mavi Marmara), but also the Iranian problem, the Gaza Strip (and) the support for Hamas. But (we’re not ready) to discuss in what way we will protect our citizens," the minister said.
The FM told the Turkish reporters that the row with Israel stemmed from "a strategic decision" by Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu,
"(Erdogan) thinks the best way to be the leader of the Islamic world is to confront Israel. It is the same regarding the issue of the Gaza blockade," he said.
Asked by the Turkish reporters how the deadlock would end, Lieberman said, "Sometimes, it will take more years, sometimes less. Even if we have disputes, we can resolve disputes in different ways but not (by) cutting diplomatic relations, or calling ambassadors back to the capitals, or provoking each other."
Addressing the crisis in Syria, Lieberman revealed that the Syrian opposition has rejected Israel's offer to provide humanitarian assistance to rebels fighting army forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, .
The FM said Israel would not intervene in Syria's domestic affairs. "We don’t want to impose ourselves on the Syrian opposition," he said.