Netanyahu re-establishes detente with Turkey

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Following the ebullience of President Barack Obama’s reception in Israel, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, apologized to Turkey for an attack on a civilian flotilla at the port of Gaza, which killed nine people on May 31, 2010.

Netanyahu called the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, giving condolences for the citizens killed by Israeli commandos and offering compensation for the families of the victims.

Turkey had halted diplomatic relations with Israel following the attack, but Netanyahu ended the prolonged diplomatic break up with his phone call to Erdogan.

The diplomatic break up came about in May 2010 when Israeli commandos gunned down eight Turkish citizens and one American citizen of Turkish descent while on board one of the ships in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara.

The fleet of ships, which was commissioned by the Free Gaza Movement, was delivering humanitarian aid and construction materials to Palestinians in response to the Israeli blockade of the port of Gaza.

In a statement from his office, Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for “any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury and agreed to conclude an agreement on compensation (and) non-liability.”

Obama’s visit to Israel last week was very successful in displaying to the rest of the world the interest the United States has towards building peace between Israel and its neighboring countries in the Middle East.

The detente between Israel and Turkey marked a crowning conclusion to Obama’s inaugural visit to Israel. Obama claimed, “the moment was right.”

Israel continues to build settlements in the West Bank, but many see a serious effort at easing tension with Turkey as necessary to starting negotiations for peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.

Erdogan was very receptive to Netanyahu reaching out. Erdogan’s office released a statement, “our prime minister accepted the apology in the name of the Turkish people.”

In his speech last Thursday in Jerusalem, Obama called young Israelis to “put yourselves in [Palestinians] shoes,” but also denounced those who seek Israel’s destruction.

“They might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above,” he said in his speech last Tuesday.

Netanyahu “regretted the recent deterioration of relations between Israel and Turkey and expressed his commitment to overcoming their differences in order to advance peace and stability in the region,” the statement from his office said.

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