According to a report in Haaretz, the British government is attempting to mediate between Israel and Turkey in an effort to resolve the impasse between the two countries.
A senior Israeli official speaking to Haaretz said that in recent weeks, Britain had delivered messages between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but that no framework had yet been found to bridge gaps between the two sides.
Relations between the two countries deteriorated rapidly after Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara vessel in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, killing nine Turks in clashes with activists on board the ship.
Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and froze all-military cooperation after a UN report into the incident released last September largely exonerated Israel.
The sticking point between the two countries remains Turkey’s insistence on an explicit Israeli apology for the deaths of the Turkish activists onboard the Mavi Marmara as well as compensation payments to the victims’ families. Netanyahu has issued statements of regret, but has refused an outright apology, as Israel’s Prime Minister has said that the soldiers were enforcing a legal blockade attempting to prevent weapons smuggling to Hamas in Gaza.
The report claims that since that crisis erupted, British diplomats, together with their counterparts from the United States and Germany, have made efforts to restore positive relations between Israel and Turkey.
According to the report, when British Prime Minister, David Cameron, met Erdogan last week he delivered a message from Israel, in which Netanyahu volunteered a formula that could potentially bring an end to the impasse between Jerusalem and Ankara. In a statement issued by the British prime minister’s office after the meeting the issue of Turkey’s relations with Israel was not mentioned, but according to Haaretz the topic was part of the closed-conversation between Cameron and Erdogan.
The British Embassy in Israel had no response to the Haaretz report, as did the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.