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article imageNetanyahu: No apology for Israeli raid of Turkish vessel

By Michael Krebs     Dec 27, 2010 in World
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered no apologies for the Israeli raid in international waters on a Turkish flotilla that was headed for Gaza in May.
It was an activist vessel sailing under a Turkish flag and operating in international waters when it was boarded by the Israeli military. Tensions were high and emotions were frail, as the flotilla intended to penetrate an Israeli naval blockade for the purpose of delivering non-military supplies to the Palestinian people residing in the troubled Gaza Strip
The May boarding yielded nine dead Turkish activists and a public affairs mess for the Israeli government. It also led to discordant relations between Israel and Turkey - nations that had long been cooperative allies.
Turkey has demanded an apology from Israel, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday announced that no apology was forthcoming.
"They (Turkey) want an apology and we of course do not want to apologize. We are prepared to express regret, as we have, on the loss of life etc," Netanyahu said, according to a Reuters report.
"We want one thing: Foremost to protect our soldiers and our commanders ... that there will be Turkish recognition that Israel did not act with malice aforethought and that Israel's soldiers acted in self defense," Netanyahu said.
Gaza remains a symbol of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory - and of the recurring violence that has occurred there. Hundreds marched in Gaza on Monday to remember the more than 1,300 killed in a 2008 Israeli incursion, known as Cast Lead, according to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz.
The May 2010 assembly of a Turkish activist flotilla was broadly seen as a challenge to Israeli authority - but the violent Israeli response was met with international criticism. While Netanyahu reiterated that Israel would not apologize over the matter, he did suggest that an expression of regret was tolerable. There is concern among some in Israel that an apology could open up the Israeli sailors to war crimes charges.
"I'm sorry to say a redeeming compromise formula still has not been found. We are continuing to try but public talk on this matter does not help," Reuters reported Netanyahu as having said.
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