MADRID, July 6 (UPI) -- Peace in the Middle East is a long way off because of the simmering dispute between Israel and Turkey, the Syrian president said in Madrid.
Syrian President Bashar Assad met with Spanish leaders in Madrid following his tour last week of Latin America.
The president said during his meeting that "the prospect of war grows" in the Middle East because of lingering disputes between Israel and Turkey, The Jerusalem Post reports.
Israel was scrutinized for a raid on a Turkish-flagged vessel trying to break a blockade on Gaza in May. Israeli forces killed nine civilians on the vessel in international waters.
Israel justified the raid as a defensive measure meant to keep goods that may have military uses out of the hands of Hamas militants.
Assad said during a news conference in Madrid said if "relations between Israel and Turkey are not renewed, it will be very difficult for Turkey to continue its role in (regional peace) negotiations."
Ankara has threatened to sever ties with Israel completely if it didn't receive a formal apology for the raid. Energy and defense ties were cut in the wake of the May 31 incident.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said his country had "no intention of apologizing to Turkey," the Post said.