The Washington Times - March 22, 2013, 12:15PM

In a phone call arranged with help from President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey Friday for the deaths of its citizens during a 2010 raid on a Gaza flotilla.

Mr. Netanyahu acknowledged “operational mistakes” in the raid, according to a senior White House official, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted the apology.


Mr. Obama, who joined the phone call, described it as a “first step” toward normalizing relations between the two countries.

Nine people were killed when Israeli forces intercepted the flotilla, which was attempt to break an Israeli naval blockade of the Palestinian enclave in Gaza.The incident damaged ties between the once-close allies; Turkey even withdrew its ambassador from Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu said the “tragic results” were not intentional and Israel “expressed remorse” for the loss of life.

Said Mr. Obama, “The United States deeply values our close partnerships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them in order to advance regional peace and security. I am hopeful that today’s exchange between the two leaders will enable them to engage in deeper cooperation on this and a range of other challenges and opportunities.”