I join Americans of Turkish descent and members of the Pax Turcica Institute in welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent apology and offer of compensation to Turkey for a mishandled military raid on the Mavi Marmara cruise ship in May 2010.
The tragic incident in the eastern Mediterranean resulted in nine Turkish civilian deaths, including that of a Turkish American, aboard a ship delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza in international waters. In the aftermath of the incident, the leading Turkish-American organizations, ATAA and FTAA, appealed for all to avoid making one-sided judgments and for an impartial international investigation into the matter.
According to an Israeli government statement, Netanyahu made it clear that the results of the Mavi Marmara incident were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life. On behalf of the Turkish nation, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted the Israeli apology and dropped all charges against the Israeli military commanders.
I commend President Obama for facilitating this move by Israel’s leadership during his visit there. Both Turkey and Israel are key regional U.S. allies and share a long history of mutual friendship and cooperation. The Turkish-Israeli rapprochement can strengthen the constructive U.S. role in the Middle East. I appeal to all Turkic- and Jewish-American communities to support this wonderful opportunity.
Meltem Birkegren, Fort Lauderdale