Erdogan: No normalization without Israel’s apology, lift of Gaza siege

[ 24/07/2011 – 08:10 AM ]

ISTANBUL, (PIC)– Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that his country’s normalization of relations with Israel is ”unthinkable” unless Israel apologizes over the 2010 flotilla attack and ends its siege on the Gaza Strip.

”As long as Israel does not apologize to Turkey, pay compensation to the families of the victims, and lift its siege on Gaza, it is unthinkable to normalize relations with it,” Erdogan said during a meeting for Palestinian ambassadors in Istanbul.

Erdogan accused Israel of ”shooting in the back” the nine unarmed Turkish activists who were on board the Mavi Marmara ship, which was a part of the Freedom Flotilla in late May 2010, when it tried to defy Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The PM also criticized Israel for refusing to ”move ahead to end the conflict and lift the Gaza siege”.

On Thursday, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon insisted that Israel was unwilling to apologize over the incident.

”We are not ready to apologize, as apologizing is taking responsibility,” he told media outlets in Jerusalem, adding that Israel would also not pay compensation to the victims’ families.

Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Israel, confirming that bilateral relations between “the countries would never be the same again”.

The United Nations is due to release in the near future a report by an investigation committee on Israel’s 2010 flotilla attack that caused once solid Israeli-Turkish relations to spiral.

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