Israel mulls apologizing to Turkey

July 24, 2011 at 8:42 AM

JERUSALEM, July 24 (UPI) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told his fellow ministers Sunday that he opposes issuing an apology to Turkey.

"Israel has no reason to apologize to Turkey. Improving relations with Turkey is in the interests of both countries, but this should not come only at the cost of Israeli interests," The Jerusalem Post quoted Lieberman saying.

Israeli ministers mulled drafting an agreement to end the diplomatic crisis between the two countries that erupted following Israel's raid on a Gaza bound flotilla in May last year resulting in the deaths of nine Turkish activists, Haaretz said.

During Sunday's meeting, Defense Minister Ehud Barak stressed the need to protect the soldiers who participated in the raid.

"Ultimately we all understand our duty to protect Israel's honor and justice, and we have instructions from above to protect officers, commanders and soldiers from the possibility of facing lawsuits abroad. Within this reality we have to consider our own way of doing things," The Post quoted Barak saying.

Turkey has demanded Israel issue a formal apology for the activists' deaths and compensates their families. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will visit the Gaza Strip if Israel refuses to do so.

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