Friday, March 22, 2013
Netanyahu apologizes to Erdogan for deaths of Turkish citizens on Gaza flotilla
The Prime Minister's Office also said that Netanyahu and Erdogan agreed to normalize relations between the two countries, and to return the Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv and the Turkish ambassador to Ankara. Erdogan announced that Turkey would cancel all the legal proceedings against IDF officers and soldiers that were opened in the wake of the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.
The phone call was the first between the two leaders since Netanyahu assumed office in 2009. According to a U.S. official, it lasted around thirty minutes and took place in a tent at Ben Gurion airport a short while before U.S. President Barack Obama flew to Jordan. At one point, Obama came on the line and joined the conversation.
Obama released an official statement on Friday afternoon saying that he welcomed the call.
"The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security," the statement said.
"I am hopeful that today's exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities."
The conversation was made after efforts by Obama to mediate between the two countries, and took place during Obama's meeting with Netanyahu on Friday afternoon.
Part of the reason the reconciliation talks between Turkey and Israel encountered difficulties was because of Erdogan's inflammatory comments a few weeks ago. During a United Nations Conference in Vienna, Erdogan called Zionism a "crime against humanity," and compared it to fascism. Erdogan's comments caused great anger in both Jerusalem and Washington.