The Israeli Prime Minister has apologised for a raid on a Gaza flotilla which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.
Benjamin Netanyahu announced the restoration of normal diplomatic relations with Turkey and expressed regret during a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
President Barack Obama helped arrange the call shortly before leaving Israel.
In a statement released by the White House, Mr Obama said: “The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security.
“I am hopeful that today’s exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities,” he added.
The flotilla incident severely harmed ties between the once-close allies. Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel, and diplomatic ties and military cooperation were greatly scaled back.
Mr Netanyahu said the “tragic results” were not intentional and Israel “expressed remorse” for the loss of life. He cited “operational mistakes”.
The nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed aboard the Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010, after passengers resisted a takeover by Israeli naval commandos.
The flotilla was en route to Gaza in an attempt to bring international attention to Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory.
At the time, the former legal adviser to Israel’s foreign ministry, Alan Baker, said it was tragic that lives had been lost, but there was no need for an apology.
(Source / 22.03.2013)