Israel's apology to shift Mideast balances: Turkish PM

Israel's apology to shift Mideast balances: Turkish PM

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Israels apology to shift Mideast balances: Turkish PM

Turkish PM Erdoğan says Israel’s apology to Turkey has changed the equation in the Middle East peace process. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Israeli apology to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara incident changed equation in the Middle East peace process as the bilateral deal obligates Israel to cooperate with the Turkish government over this process, the prime minister has said.

“The point we have arrived at as a result of our consultations with all our brothers in Palestine and peripheral countries is increasing our responsibility with regard to solving the Palestinian question and thus is bringing about a new equation,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in his address to his lawmakers yesterday at the Parliament. Erdoğan added that Israel agreed to make cooperation with Turkey on carrying out talks with Palestine for the Middle East peace process.

He said all his regional interlocutors, including Khaled Mashaal of the Hamas, admit that a new era has begun in the Middle East what they all call after Turkish victory on Israeli apology.

Erdoğan outlined the details of his phone conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama that brought about the long-expected Israeli apology to Turkey over the killings of nine Turkish citizens on the board of the Mavi Marmara vessel carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. Erdoğan said his conversation with Netanyahu took place under the witness of Obama but he wanted first to talk with the US President as he missed his voice.

“I talked to him and we have reviewed the text and confirmed the (apology) process. we have therefore accomplished this process under Obama’s witness,” Erdoğan said, adding this phone conversation has also been recorded alongside with written statements issued from all three sides. “We have made the process safe.”

President Abdullah Gül did also make a statement on Israeli apology during his joint press conference with visiting Cameron President Paul Biya yesterday, depicting rather a more cautious stance. “Israel did what it had to do. Therefore I express my contentment of it,” he said but he also added: “The issue is still very fresh, let’s all wait. This is just a first step.”

Apologizing for the Mavi Marmara killings, Israel did also accept to pay compenstaion to the families of the victims and remove its blockade on Gaza. Technical talks on how the compesnation will be piad will be discussed in april between senior diplomats of both countries as part of the deal recahed between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Erdoğan repeated that they will closely follow the implementation of this deal and he would visit Gaza and West Bank in April in order to witness the blockade imposed by Israeli government. “Turkey will continue to do its best for the reconstruction of Gaza and for overcoming humanitarian problems,” he said, underlining that Turkey’s approach towrds Israel will depend on Israeli fulfillment of its commitments.

“This apology and steps (to be taken by Israel) will of course not bring our martyrs massacred on the Mavi Marmara board back to us and will not compensate inhuman treatments towards Palestine for decades. But I believe this apology is very important for the memory of ours and Palestine’s martyrs,” he added. Recalling his talks with Meshaal, Erdoğan said the Hamas leader expressed his happiness out of the development and said he really felt affected. The two have also agreed to meet in Palestine during Erdoğan’s soon-to-be made visit.

Slamming CHP over Israeli stance

Underlining that almost everyone in Turkey and in near-by countries felt proud and joy after Israeli apology except for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leadership, Erdoğan called his main political rival to adopt a more national stance on foreign policy issues.

“The CHP preferred to align itself with the aggressors instead of his own nation. And it attacked on us using the same language with Israel,” he claimed. Arguing that the same non-national stance of the CHP is also seen now on Syria, Erdoğan criticized the CHP for preferring to be on the same picture with tyrants like Behar al-Assad.

“Even Israel apologized but this CHP will never do so,” he added, calling all oppositional parties to share the same great vision they have.