Israel will not apologize to Turkey for the killing of nine activists on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara while intercepting the ship as it sought to break Gaza blockade, a senior government official said on Friday.
"Hostile elements" had been among the passengers on board the ship and they attacked the Israeli naval commandos overtaking the ship with "cold weapons" including knives and sticks, the Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Israel Radio.
Therefore there was "no chance" Israel would apologize for defending itself, the official said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, did not comment when asked by DPA whether Israel was ready to meet Turkey's demands for an apology. "I have nothing new to say," he said.
Netanyahu meanwhile met Foreign Minister and his largest coalition partner Avigdor Lieberman of the ultra-right Israel Beiteinu party to settle their row over a secret meeting in Brussels Wednesday between a minister of the Labour Party and Ankara's top diplomat.
Lieberman was outraged that he had not been informed of the meeting between Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, held in a bid to patch up the deeply damaged ties between the two countries.
Turkey's foreign ministry confirmed the meeting Thursday and said Davutoglu reminded Ben-Eliezer about Turkey's conditions for restoring the ties between the once strong allies.
These included an Israeli apology, compensation for the victims' families, an international commission of inquiry, and lifting the blockade of Gaza. He said Ben-Eliezer promised to convey the message.
Eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American were killed when the Israeli commandos opened fire on board the Mavi Marmara, after they say they came under attack by a group of several dozen violent, knife and stick-wielding civilian activists.