Israel's long withheld apology seen as victory for Obama

The Israeli apology for the Mavi Marmara, crafted after weeks of extensive formulations by U.S. and Israeli diplomats, becomes considered as a diplomatic victory of Obama’s visit.

Israel's long withheld apology seen as victory for Obama

World Bulletin/News Desk

After an extensive refusal to do so, Israel issued on Friday the public apology demanded by Turkey for the deadly 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla, which killed nine activists.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized, pledged to pay compensation to the victims' families and to continue to ease restrictions on the movement of civilian goods into Gaza during his 30-minute phone call with Mr. Erdogan, a statement released by Mr. Netanyahu's office indicated.

Conveying that Israel's investigation of the incident had revealed several “operational mistakes,” the statement said that “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."

Israeli naval commandos conducted a deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara in international waters on May 31, 2010, killing eight Turkish activists and one 18 year old Turkish-American activist.

Turkey responded by expelling Israel's ambassador in Ankara and suspended military ties.

Following the apology Turkey has agreed to cancel legal actions taken against Israeli soldiers in Turkish courts, according to officials. Turkey put four former Israeli military commanders on trial in absentia for the killings.

The prime ministers agreed to dispatch ambassadors, according to Turkish and Israeli officials.

"I discussed it with Mr. Netanyahu and both of us agreed the moment was right," Obama stated at a news conference in Amman.

A senior U.S. official connected the U.S.’s pursuit of an apology to the lack of progress regarding the Palestinian issue by stating, "We knew there wasn't going to be a major breakthrough in the Palestinian issue… But we felt this was one potentially achievable goal in this time frame."

The Wall Street viewed this development as a diplomatic victory for President Barack Obama which “could strengthen Washington's hand in the Syrian crisis and in the push for Israeli-Palestinian peace.” It also considered this new development as signaling Turkish policy’s continuing divergence from Iran.

Analysts express that if a reconciliation leads to cooperation between Israel's technology and intelligence capabilities and Turkey's robust military presence on the Syrian border, such a development could contribute to the toppling of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Netanyahu placed the call to Erdogan on Friday from a trailer on the tarmac of Israel's Ben Gurion Airport in the presence of Obama right before the latter boarded Air Force One to leave for Jordan.

U.S. diplomats shuttled between the Israelis and the Turks for weeks in order to formulate what the leaders would say to each other. American and Israeli diplomats tinkered with the final language in Mr. Netanyahu's statement throughout Thursday.

"In the end, once they had both made the strategic decision that this is worth doing, worth taking on whatever political costs come with it, then it's just a question of finding just the right nuanced language to execute it," the U.S. official said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Mart 2013, 12:33