How the Israel-Turkey talks fell apart

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 8, 2011

The dispute between Israel and Turkey involved national pride, diplomatic posturing and regional interests, but protracted negotiations between the two countries often seemed to hinge on just one word.

"The government hired some of the top linguists, experts in the English language and the phrasing of international agreements," said one senior Israeli official, "just to come up with best formula that would have made both sides happy. But the Turkish government would not settle for anything but a total apology."

Israel proposed various wordings revolving around the expression of "regret" and, at different stages, it seemed that the Turks were receptive. However they later returned with orders to settle for nothing less than an apology to the entire Turkish Republic.

"Eventually, even those of us who were in favour of compromise realised that it wasn't going to happen," said an Israeli diplomat involved in the talks.

Last updated: 12:31pm, September 8 2011