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Israel and Turkey still at loggerheads

Aug. 18, 2011 at 7:34 AM   |   Comments

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JERUSALEM, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Turkey is planning a series of anti-Israel campaigns in response to Israel's refusal to apologize for the flotilla raid last year, an Israeli official said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday Israel had no intention of apologizing to Ankara for the incident in which nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos who were confronted by violence when they boarded the Mavi Marmara. The ship was one of a number that sought to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Netanyahu informed U.S. Secretary State Hillary Clinton of the decision in a telephone conversation, Haaretz said.

In recent months the U.S. administration has pressured Israel to issue an apology to improve Israeli-Turkish ties, the newspaper said.

"Rejection of our decision is unacceptable. As long as Israel does not apologize, does not pay compensation and continues to place an embargo on the Palestinian people, there will be no improvement in the relations between Turkey and Israel," Arutz Sheva quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying in response to Israel's decision.

Israeli government sources told Haaretz Thursday Turkey will embark on a plan that includes anti-Israeli campaigns in U.N. institutions and encourages the families of those killed to file suits against senior Israeli officials in European courts, the newspaper said.

Turkey may also lower the level of diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, the sources said, noting that for more than a year, there has been no Turkish ambassador in Israel.

A repeatedly delayed U.N. report on the flotilla incident is scheduled to be published next Tuesday, Haaretz reported.

An Israeli official in Jerusalem said he believes the reason Netanyahu decided not to apologize was mainly to wait for the report.

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