No closer Israel ties without ship apology: Turkey

Israel has rejected a US request to apologise to Turkey over its 2010 commando raid.

Updated: Aug 18, 2011, 11:39 AM IST

Istanbul: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday it would be impossible for Turkish-Israeli ties to improve unless Israel apologised and paid compensation for the killing of nine Turks aboard a Gaza-bound ship.

An Israeli official said earlier on Wednesday Israel would stick to its refusal to apologise to Turkey, dampening any prospects for reconciliation between the former allies.

Israeli PM snubs Hillary

Israel has rejected a US request to apologise to Turkey over its 2010 commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine Turkish activists, local media reported on Wednesday.

Unsourced reports by Israel`s two main radio stations said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday with a direct request that he make an apology -- but he turned her down.

"He said Israel has no intention of apologising at this time and that he is waiting for the publication of a report by the UN secretary general," Army radio said.

A United Nations report into the flotilla affair, whose publication has been postponed at least twice this year to allow time for the two sides to reconcile their differences, is due to be released on August 20.

Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot earlier reported that Israeli diplomats in Washington had onpassed a message from Hillary saying the Israel-Turkey crisis was interfering with US attempts to deal with the bloodshed in Syria.

A similar message was given to Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak when he visited Washington in late July, when Hillary asked him to do everything in his power to resolve the crisis -- "including apologise”, the paper said.

In May 2010, Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish ferry leading a six-ship flotilla attempting to break Israel`s naval embargo on the Gaza Strip.

The botched operation left nine Turkish nationals dead and sparked a diplomatic crisis with Ankara, which immediately recalled its ambassador.

Since then, Turkey has demanded an Israeli apology for the bloodshed, as well as compensation for the victims` families.

Bureau Report