Netanyahu apologizes to Turkey for Gaza flotilla deaths | News | DW | 22.03.2013

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Netanyahu apologizes to Turkey for Gaza flotilla deaths

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologized to his Turkish counterpart for the deaths of nine Turks in a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla. The apology was orchestrated by US President Barack Obama.

Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized on Friday to Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for errors that might have led to the deaths of nine Turkish activists during a 2010 raid on a boat off the Gaza Strip, the Israeli premier's office said in a statement.

Netanyahu talked with his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Erdogan, earlier in the day in a telephone call brokered by US President Barack Obama shortly before he left Israel.

He added that the "tragic results" were not intentional and that Israel "expressed remorse" for the loss of life. He cited "operational mistakes."

"Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed an apology to the Turkish people for any error that may have led to the loss of life, and agreed to complete the agreement for compensation," a statement from his office read. The statement also announced a full resumption of diplomatic ties with Turkey.

"I welcome the call today between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Erdogan," Obama said.

"The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security," he said.

"I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities," Obama said.

The once strong ties between Israel and its only Muslim ally Turkey deteriorated after Erdogan stormed out of a Davos panel with Israeli President Shimon Peres following Israel's war in Gaza in December 2008 to January 2009, telling him: "You know well how to kill people."

The 2010 flotilla raid triggered a diplomatic crisis between the two nations and led to the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Ankara. Military ties were also severed.

hc/rc (AFP, AP)