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WASHINGTON – Reports have it that U.S. President Barack Obama had arranged for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to receive an apology by phone from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Obama was preparing to leave Israel for Jordan during his recent overseas trip, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
However, there are some reservations on the part of Turkey in putting those relations back to where they were prior to their deterioration, which resulted first from the Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and then an open sea commando raid on a ship reportedly carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza in an effort to end-run an Israeli sea blockade.
Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey have been pretty much frozen since that May 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in which eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American were killed following the Israeli commando boarding of the vessel.
In the phone exchange, Netanyahu reportedly apologized to Erdogan over the incident and agreed to compensate the families of the victims.
In exchange, both prime ministers reportedly agreed to restore normalization of diplomatic relations. Turkey for its part reportedly agreed to cancel any legal action against the Israeli Defense Forces soldiers who undertook the commando raid on the vessel. While their respective ambassadors had been recalled relations, in effect, were suspended but some military exchanges between the two continued.
What’s intriguing, however, is that the Israeli Foreign Ministry posting of the information on its website in English omitted information altogether on the exchange of ambassadors and the cancellation of legal steps against the IDF soldiers.
According to a source, the Israeli Foreign Ministry website in Hebrew doesn’t make any statement about the apology.
The Turkish prime minister’s office in a statement also was subdued, saying that Erdogan had accepted Netanyahu’s apology and that some restrictions still in place toward the Gaza Strip would be lifted as long as there was stability there.
While Erdogan reportedly had asked that all restrictions toward Gaza be lifted, no such thing occurred, sources say.
Analysts believe that politics between the two countries still are at play. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has sought to emphasize the hostile relationship between them as a way to maintain Turkey’s credibility with the rest of the Islamic world.
For that reason, the Turkish response has been restrained because of Ankara’s concerns about its image in the region. This suggests that further warming of relations may still take a while.
Erdogan still stands by his comment that branded Zionism as a crime against humanity – a statement he made in February before a United Nations forum in Vienna, Austria.
However, he said the statement was misunderstood and that it applied more toward Israeli policy toward Gaza and the issue of continued settlement construction in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
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