ANKARA (Hurriyet)–Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had harsh words for his Israeli counterpart Tuesday, the latest salvo in the quarrel over the flotilla crisis that has brought the one-time allies to the brink of cutting ties, the Turkish Hurriyet Daily reported.
“What [Avigdor] Lieberman says has no value for us,” Davutoglu said in televised remarks Tuesday, referring to the Israeli foreign minister’s call for Turkey to apologize. The Turkish foreign minister harshly criticized Lieberman and said he did not view his Israeli counterpart as a proper go-between “owing to his rhetoric and attitude.”
In an interview with Hurriyet on Sunday, Davutoglu said relations with Israel “would be cut off if Israel does not apologize and compensate the victims of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship.”
But on Tuesday he said he “was compelled to make that statement because it was said that our demands would not be met while that turmoil was happening in Israel.”
Davutoglu’s statement Sunday was triggered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to apologize to Turkey or compensate the families of the activists killed onboard the ship.
“Israel should both apologize and pay compensation unilaterally,” the Turkish foreign minister said Tuesday. “If those two conditions do not materialize, Turkey is not just any country; Turkey will not stay indifferent.”
Davutoglu secretly met with Israeli Trade Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer last week and conveyed Turkey’s demands in a bid to find a way out of the diplomatic crisis. The meeting sparked tensions within Israel’s ruling coalition as it emerged that Netanyahu had approved the talks without informing Lieberman.
Noting that the conflict over Israel’s deadly attack is not solely a problem between Turkey and Israel, Davutoglu said the international community also expects Israel to meet the U.N. Security Council’s demands for an apology and compensation.
Eight Turks and a U.S. citizen of Turkish descent were killed when Israeli commandos attacked the Mavi Marmara, which was part of a flotilla of ships trying to carry aid to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip. In the wake of the raid, Turkey recalled its ambassador from Israel and cancelled three planned joint military exercises. It has also banned some Israeli military flights in Turkish airspace.