Israel's apology to Turkey over the May 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara continues to prompt reactions both in Israel and abroad. Several world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, praised Israel's apology on Wednesday, with Merkel calling it a "correct and brave step."
But there were also words of criticism coming from home. Several days after Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman criticized the apology, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) published a Facebook status on Wednesday that also cast a negative light on the move.
"Since the apology was made public, it appears [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is doing everything he can to make Israel regret it, while conducting a personal and vitriolic campaign at the expense of Israel-Turkey relations," Bennett wrote. "Let there be no doubt — no nation is doing Israel a favor by renewing ties with it. It should also be clear to Erdoğan that if Israel encounters in the future any terrorism directed against us, our response will be no less severe."
Bennett concluded his message with words of support for Israel Defense Forces soldiers, telling them "always do everything, and I mean everything, to protect the lives of Israeli citizens. This is your job. We'll deal with the rest. The people of Israel stand behind you, we are always with you."
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin called Israel's apology to Turkey a mistake: "The more you give them the feeling that they are on the side of justice, the higher their level of violence rises," Feiglin said on Wednesday.
Israel and Turkey are said to be negotiating the financial restitution that Israel will pay the families of the nine Turks killed on the Mavi Marmara, but diplomatic officials in the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister's Office are not releasing details. They said that Israel's representatives to the talks, National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and Dr. Joseph Ciechanover, are expected to get to work on the matter after the end of the Passover holiday.
Officials in Jerusalem said that the amount of compensation each family will receive has not been determined at this time. Israel is reportedly willing to pay $100,000 to each family, while Turkey is reportedly demanding $1 million for each family.
Israel wants the payments to be given only to the families and not to organizations, to prevent a scenario in which Israel gives money to organizations that took part in the flotilla, such as IHH, which is on its terror watch list. Israel is also seeking assurances that the restitution agreement would rule out any future legal proceeding in the matter.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan on Wednesday issued a Passover greeting to Jews in Turkey and around the world, but also continued to speak provocatively about Israel's apology.
The Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported that last Friday's conversation between Erdoğan, Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama was recorded.
Erdoğan said on Wednesday that the balance of power in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process "has been shifted," as the apology agreement mandates that Israel cooperate with Turkey on that matter.
Turkish President Abdullah Gül said on Wednesday, "Israel did what it had to do. Therefore I express my contentment of it. The issue is still very fresh, let’s all wait. This is just a first step."