AG to Netanyahu: Apologize to Turkey or face indictments for IDF troops 21Jul11 July 22, 2011

by Barak Ravid   -   Ha’aretz -   21 July 2011

Sources say Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein believes apology would convince Turkey not to file lawsuits against IDF officers who took over the Mavi Marmara in 2010.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has advised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel should apologize for the deadly takeover of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship last year, in which nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed, sources in Jerusalem said Thursday.

According to the sources, Weinstein believes the UN investigation into the 2010 flotilla incident might prompt lawsuits against IDF soldiers. Therefore, he recommends reaching an understanding with Turkey, even if that means issuing an apology. The Justice Department declined to comment on these details.

The sources added that Weinstein believes that if Turkey promises not to file lawsuits against IDF soldiers and officers that took part in the Marmara interception, Israel should consider apologizing for operational mistakes and misuse of force. The suggested apology would be a general one, and would not apply to stopping the flotilla or the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Although the UN investigation is expected to find the naval blockade legal, it is likely to determine that the Israeli commando soldiers used excessive force while intercepting the ship. The investigation mentions autopsy reports which claim that the activists killed were shot several times.

The UN report is expected to be published on July 27 in New York. The report’s release has been delayed several times due to pressure from the United States, who is worried that the ongoing crisis between Israel and Turkey will harm its interests in the Middle East.

Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who has led negotiations with Turkey over the last few weeks, adamantly opposes any kind of apology to Turkey, a view shared by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Ya’alon believes that even if Israel apologizes, citizens from Turkey or other countries could still file lawsuits against IDF soldiers and officers.

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