Israel reportedly may apologize to Turkey for “operational errors” during its fatal raid on a 2010 Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Turkish newspaper Radikal on Feb. 20 reported that the partial apology may have been the subject of secret talks between Turkey and Israel.
Radikal journalist Deniz Zeyrek wrote that unnamed Turkish foreign ministry officials told him on Feb. 19 that “such meetings could be going on.”
Obama, who is due to visit Israel in late March, has pressed for reconciliation between the U.S. allies.
As a condition to normalizing diplomatic ties with Israel, Turkey has demanded that Israel apologize for the death of nine activists who were killed when Israeli commandoes raided the Mavi Marmara ship during a takeover operation in the Mediterranean.
The aid ship, chartered by the Islamist IHH organization, was headed to the Gaza Strip in defiance of Israel’s naval siege on the Hamas-run area.
Turkey has also demanded Israel lift the siege, but is prepared to drop that demand, the report in Radikal said. Additionally, Israel will offer compensation to the families of those killed, according to the report.
Such a deal was under consideration in the summer of 2011, but was scuttled in part because of objections by then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. Now facing trial on corruption charges, Liberman is no longer in government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to cobble together a governing coaltion after close elections last month.
Radikal quoted an unnamed Turkish diplomat as saying that ‘’It does not seem likely that any step will be taken before the new Israeli government is formed and an official position adopted.”