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Benjamin Netanyahu Administration: Israel Apologizes to Turkey for Mistakes that Led to Loss of Life

(March 22, 2013)

On March 22, 2013, on the final day of President Barack Obama's first presidential visit to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding the 2010 Gaza Flotilla Incident and the souring of Israeli-Turkish relations over the ensuing years.

Netanyahu told Erdogan he had good conversations with President Obama about regional cooperation and the importance of Israel-Turkey relations. He 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.

Netanyahu made clear that the tragic outcome of the 2010 Flotilla incident was not intended by Israel and that Israel regrets the loss of human life and injury. In light of Israel's investigation into the incident, which pointed to a number of operational mistakes, the Prime Minister expressed Israel's apology 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.

Netanyahu also noted that Israel had substantially lifted the restrictions on the entry of civilian goods into the Palestinian territories, including Gaza, and that this would continue as long as calm prevailed. The two leaders agreed to continue to work to improve the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.

On March 24, 2013, Israeli President Shimon Peres spoke directly to the Turkish people in a television interview, saying:

"Both Israel and Turkey wanted to put an end to this misunderstanding and return to the good relations that have existed between Turkey and ourselves for many good years. I can think of a 1000 reasons why Turkey and Israel should be friends; I cannot find one reason why they shouldn't be friends. There are more reasons to work together than ever before."

Sources: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs