Turkey demand Israel apologise for flotilla raid

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish foreign minister has warned that the country will sever ties with Israel unless it apologises for the clash on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May.

Nine Turkish pro-Palestinian campaigners died and Israeli commandoes were attacked by activists wielding knives.

Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey will not wait long for the demands to be met, adding: "If they do not make any move, the process of isolating Israel will continue.”

An inquiry panel has already been set up in Israel, with two international overseers including Lord Trimble.

But Israeli politicians have repeatedly rejected calls to apologise. Yigal Palmor, Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said. "Of course, we regret the loss of life but it was not the Israeli side that initiated the violence."

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel has "no intention of apologizing to Turkey."

The threats are the latest in a line of diplomatic spats between the two countries. In June Turkish officials refused to allow a plane carrying Israeli soldiers to Poland to visit Auschwitz to fly through Turkish airspace.

There have been suggestions that the ban could be extended to civilian flights if relations continue to deteriorate.

Last updated: 3:36pm, July 5 2010