Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today urged the current government to renew efforts to restore normal diplomatic ties with the Turkish government, insisting it was a vital national interest and that Israel needed to come to terms with the fact that Turkey is not an enemy.
Tensions between the two nations have been on the rise since last May, when Israeli soldiers killed nine aid workers aboard a Turkish aid ship. They came to a head last week, when Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador.
But while current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today insisted that he too hoped to restore ties with Turkey, he would never apologize for the killings, insisting they were “defending out children” from weapons smuggling. The ship they attacked contained a large number of wheelchairs and medicine, but no weapons.
It is this basic difference in worldview, the firm Israeli belief that a shipload of wheelchairs amounted to an existential threat, that has kept Israeli-Turkish relations sour. After over a year of insisting the aid workers were “terrorists,” the Israeli government will have a difficult time offering such an apology, no matter how in their interests it is to do so.