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Netanyahu says no apology over flotilla deaths: report

(Xinhua)

10:20, August 18, 2011

JERUSALEM, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a recent telephone conversation that his country would not apologize to Turkey over the deaths of nine Turkish nationals during a commando raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010, Israeli media reported Wednesday.

In a conversation on Tuesday, Clinton asked Netanyahu to offer an apology, in order to bring a continuing deterioration in relations between Israel and Turkey to an end, and possibly to help bolster U.S. interests in the area, according to Israel Channel 2 television.

An official at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), speaking with Xinhua, however, would neither confirm nor deny the reports of the prime minister's refusal.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wasted no time in replying to the reported snub, and said there would be no improvement in bilateral relations between the two countries without such an apology. Turkey is also demanding financial compensation for the deaths on board the Mavi Marmara.

However, "We're firm on not apologizing," a PMO official told The Jerusalem Post.

Both Israeli and Turkish representatives took part in the United Nations Palmer Committee investigation which looked into the circumstances of the raid on the vessel, in which troops were reportedly met with violent resistance in trying to commandeer the boat to keep it from reaching Gaza.

Former New Zealand prime minister Jeffrey Palmer, who headed the group, will present its findings to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon next Monday. The report is due to be released publicity a day later.

The PMO source said the report backs up Israel's version of events, so there was no need to apologize.

"We know the report supports our position," the source said, according to the newspaper.

PMO Spokesman Mark Regev told Xinhua that "Israel regrets the deterioration in relations between Jerusalem and Ankara," and added that "the deterioration did not happen at our initiative, nor was it our desire."


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