World News

Turkey wants peace with Israel, but insists on apology

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s Foreign Minister has said Turkey wants to repair ties with Israel but insisted the Jewish state must first apologise and offer compensation for its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound ship.

“Turkey has the will to make peace with Israel,” Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Saturday, reiterating Ankara’s conditions for the re-establishment of full diplomatic ties.

“Turkey has the will to make peace with everybody,” Davutoglu said, according to state-run Anatolian. “Why should Israel remain excluded? It is a country with which we had very good relations until 2008.”

Israeli soldiers stormed the Mavi Marmara on May 31, killing nine Turkish activists. The ship was part of a Turkish-led convoy bringing supplies to blockaded Gaza.

Muslim Turkey until recently enjoyed close military and commercial ties with Israel. But relations between the two U.S. allies have been tense since an Israeli offensive in Gaza in late 2008.

The Marmara ship incident further soured relations, with Turkey demanding that Israel formally apologise for the deaths of the nine pro-Palestinian activists.

Envoys of the two countries meet in Geneva earlier this month for rapprochement talks.

Israeli officials have said Israel wants to reach a compromise with Turkey that both sides can live with.

But Turkish Prime Tayyip Erdogan, a leader of the Islamist-rooted AK Party and a frequent scolder of Israel’s Palestinian policies, has signalled no flexibility in Turkey’s demands for an apology and compensation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces opposition to such a deal from his hawkish foreign minister and government coalition partner, Avigdor Lieberman.

Davutoglu said Israel had to show political will.

“The fact that we have the will to make peace does not mean that others also have that will. Then this creates difficulty. It is very difficult to establish political will in Israel.”

The Mavi Marmara led an aid-ferrying flotilla that tried to breach Israel’s Gaza blockade, imposed with the declared aim of keeping arms from Islamist Hamas.