Erdogan demands Israel 'clean the blood' after raid

Reuters, Monday 6 Dec 2010

Turkey still expects Israel to apologise and "clean the blood" spilled when nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound ship

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at the opening of a new security office in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, 1 Dec. 2010. (AP)


Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said his country still expects Tel Aviv to "apologize" for Israel's bloody raid on an aid ship that attempted to break the siege of Gaza, killing nine Turks last May.

Erdogan made the comments as senior foreign ministry officials from both countries met in Switzerland to discuss ways of repairing the relationship.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Erdogan on Friday to thank him for sending fire-fighting planes to help battle forest fires in northern Israel that killed 41 people.

It was the first conversation between the two men since Israeli soldiers stormed the Mavi Marmara on May 31. The boat that was part of a Turkish-led convoy bringing supplies to blockaded Gaza.

Relations between the once close allies have been tense since.

On Friday, Netanyahu said Turkey's gesture was an opportunity to improve ties. But Erdogan said the help fighting the fires was purely humanitarian. "No one can expect us to be silent, to abandon justice until the blood spilled in the Mediterranean is cleaned," Erdogan said in comments broadcast live by CNN Turk.

"Now some are coming out and saying, 'Let's begin a new phase.' Before that, our demands must be met...Our nine brothers martyred on the Mavi Marmara must be accounted for. First an apology must be made and compensation must be paid."

Israeli officials have said they will not apologise.

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