(Israelhayom).Israel regrets the loss of life during the battle on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010, and hopes a way will be found to repair the damaged relations with Turkey, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said, "Israel never intended for relations with Ankara to deteriorate, and we are not interested in a deterioration now."
Netanyahu was speaking two days after Turkey downgraded ties with Israel to their lowest diplomatic level, expelled Israel's ambassador, canceled all military agreements, and threatened to pursue Israel's Gaza blockade policy at the International Criminal Court, as the U.N.'s Palmer report into the Gaza-bound flotilla incident, was leaked to The New York Times before its official release on Friday
"The U.N.'s Palmer report confirms what we knew from the start: That we reserve the right to defend ourselves and that we acted in accordance with international law."
"We will not apologize for our Naval Commandos defending themselves against violent activists from the Turkish IHH organizations, and we will not apologize for working to stop the smuggling of weapons to the Hamas terror organization which fires at our civilians".
The prime minister promised his government would act to protect the naval commandos who took part in the raid on the Marmara from possible legal action against them by the Turkish government.
An Israeli official pointed out Saturday that the report "not only calls the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza legitimate, it also concludes that there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and that anyone who wishes to send humanitarian aid to Gaza must coordinate it with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to have it transported through the overland crossing points."
Vice Premier and Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe (Bogey) Ya'alon, the senior Israeli minister dispatched to Turkey over the past few months, on Sunday said Israel was right not to apologize for the flotilla incident.
"I was sent to negotiate with the Turks three times. They demanded an apology, compensation, and a lifting of the naval blockade on Gaza. I saw no intention on their part to show flexibility, nor any goodwill," Ya'alon told Army Radio.
"Turkey has not cut off all ties with us. Trade has actually increased, and even some defense ties are continuing. This issue did not start with the flotilla. [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan looked to the East, to our worst enemies. Erdogan wanted to show our neighbors how he defeated and humiliated Israel, even when there was a U.N. report that was in Israel's favor. That was his aim, to humiliate us. And that is a strategic issue".