Israel will probably soon apologize to Turkey for a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla which left nine Turkish citizens dead, a senior Turkish diplomat said Tuesday.
“I would be surprised if there were no apologies since both sides have the political will to resolve this crisis,” said ambassador Ozdem Sanberk, a member of the UN panel probing the Israeli raid.
“We are heading toward a solution probably toward the end of the month,” he added.
“Bilateral contacts are ongoing, not on a regular basis...I expect positive developments,” said Mr. Sanberk, who is involved in the negotiations.
Sunday, Israel's Haaretz daily said the defense establishment in the Jewish state wanted to see ties with Turkey repaired, even supporting an apology to Ankara over the 2010 raid.
Relations between the former allies have been in tatters since the military operation, in which nine Turkish activists were killed when Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara ship which was leading a flotilla trying to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Ankara has demanded an official apology from Israel for the killings, but Israel has so far refused, in part fearing that such an apology could open the way for commandos who took part in the raid to be prosecuted.
But Haaretz reported on Sunday that defense and justice ministry officials have in recent weeks suggested that Israel could in fact head off potential lawsuits by Turkish human rights organizations by offering an apology.
Israeli lawmakers, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have said publicly that the Jewish state will not apologize for the raid, warning that expressing any such sentiment would be humiliating.
But Israeli officials also acknowledge that upgrading relations with Ankara is a high diplomatic priority and that the Jewish state would benefit from a return to the once-warm ties the countries had.