What’s in an apology? Apparently not the word “regret.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to come to some sort of deal with the Turkish government over the May killings of nine aid workers aboard the Mavi Marmara.
The offer right now would involve Israel paying some $100,000 to the families of each of the nine victims of their raid, and to express “regret” for the killings, but not an actual apology for them. The difference between apology and regret is apparently significant, diplomatically.
But Netanyahu’s efforts are noteworthy because he’s trying to salvage relations with traditional ally Turkey with the considerable handicap of having his own foreign office openly condemning the notion.
In the wake of the killings Israel’s government was quite effective in managing the official story domestically, to the point that there were celebratory rallies in front of the Turkish embassy to cheer the killings of the aid workers. The spin hasn’t held much weight internationally, but the foreign ministry is still sticking by it, and demanding that Turkey instead compensate Israel for making them go to the trouble of killing the aid workers.
Clearly a Turkish apology is not in the offing, but the effort is perhaps underscoring just how hamstrung Israel is diplomatically by having given the foreign ministry to Avigdor Lieberman, one of the least diplomatic officials in Israel’s far-right coalition. If Israel can rescue its Turkish ties, it will be in spite of, and not because of, the foreign ministry.