'Extra mile' Israeli apology for Turkey

March 28, 2013 at 11:36 AM

JERUSALEM, March 28 (UPI) -- Even if Jerusalem's apology doesn't lead to better relations with Turkey, "everyone" will know Israel exerted extra effort, says a senior government official.

The comments came as Turkey's prime minister claimed last week's apology by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the deaths of nine people aboard a ship attempting to break the blockade of Gaza in 2010 makes Turkey a major player in peace efforts with the Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

The apology to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that "everyone" can now see Israel "went the extra mile" to mend relations with Turkey, the official said.

He didn't specify who "everyone" was but the United States has pushed Jerusalem for months to mend fences with Turkey because a rapprochement between the two countries was critical to U.S. efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser downplayed Erdogan's comments, saying the "bottom line" was the "central interest in taking this issue off the agenda between the two countries in light of the changing realities in the Middle East and what is happening in Syria."

The "heart" of the diplomatic effort was Turkey's agreement to stop legal proceedings against Israeli soldiers involved in the deaths aboard the ship, the Mavi Marmara, said Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's diplomatic security bureau.

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