In Israel, criticism of flotilla apology to Turkey mounts

Some Israeli leaders have been criticizing Israel’s recent apology to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident in light of the demands Erdogan has made of Israel since the apology was publicized.

Erdogan, clarifying initial reports that Turkey-Israel ties had been normalized following his March 22 conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that those ties would not be fully restored until Israel both provides financial compensation for the nine Turkish citizens who died in the Mavi Marmara altercation and ends its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Also, billboards put up last week by the Ankara municipality seemed to give credit to Erdogan for the apology. “Israel apologized to Turkey. Dear prime minister, we are grateful that you let our country experience this pride,” the billboards read.

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s  economy and trade minister, wrote on Facebook that Erdogan “is doing everything he can to make Israel regret” the apology. “Let there be no doubt — no nation is doing Israel a favor by renewing ties with it,” he added.

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said the apology was a mistake because Turkey “will not reverse its policies” and “will drag the negotiations on compensation in order not to allow for an exchange of ambassadors.” Inbar called Erdogan’s recent announcement that he will visit Gaza in April “a slap in our face.”

Moshe Feiglin, a member of Knesset, said last week that the apology to Turkey was a mistake because, “The more you give them the feeling that they are on the side of justice, the higher their level of violence rises.”

Feiglin also demanded that Turkey apologize for the February 1942 sinking of the MV Struma in the Black Sea, Israel Hayom reported. With more than 700 Jews on board, the Struma, bound for pre-state Israel, was quarantined in Istanbul for two months, with passengers not permitted ashore. With its engine not working, it was towed to sea, where it sunk, killing everyone on board. — &