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US presses Israel to apologize to Turkey

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The US administration is applying heavy pressure on Israel to apologize to the Turkish government over events surrounding the May 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara. The Americans wish to stabilize Israeli-Turkish relations as soon as possible.

Israeli diplomats in the US have recently delivered a communiqué from the State Department and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating that the deterioration in Jerusalem’s ties with Ankara is harming American interests in the region, Yedioth Aharonoth reported.

The US is seeking to strengthen its ties with the Turkish government in the wake of the violent crackdown in Syria. Both the US and Turkey have common goals: to end Bashar Assad’s reign and replace him with a more moderate leader, to stabilize Syria and prevent its collapse.

On its part, Washington wants to bring to the table an Israeli agreement to apologize over the flotilla incident.

The American demand was also voiced by Clinton during talks she held with Defense Minister Ehud Barak during the latter’s visit to the US three weeks ago. In their meeting, she urged Barak that Israel do all that it can to end the crisis, including apologizing to the Turks.

Three days before the submission of the Palmer Report on events surrounding the flotilla to Gaza, the American pressure is growing.

According to Israeli diplomats in Washington, US officials had even implied that it would be difficult for the US to persuade other nations to reject the Palestinians’ UN statehood bid in September if Jerusalem refuses to apologize to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Turkey – which is aware of the American pressure on Israel – is applying its own pressure on the UN to scrap or postpone the submission of the Palmer Report until Israel issues an apology.

Senior cabinet ministers who met over the weekend to discuss the matter did not reach any decision, which could point to the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would rather have the report published without an Israeli response and only after its publication would Israel weigh its options.

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