JERUSALEM, Israel -- Turkey's Islamist government upped the ante over the 2010 confrontation aboard its Gaza-bound flagship, the Mavi Marmara, saying Israel's apology and compensation for families of the nine activists who were killed wasn't enough.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Israel must first acknowledge it had committed a "wrongful act" aboard the ship and then agree to improve "life conditions" for Palestinians.
"The amount of money is not the problem," the Turkish daily Hurriyet quoted Arinc. "There are two problematic areas. The first one is that Israel should accept that it's paying this money as a result of its wrongful act -- nothing less than this will be accepted."
"And second, we are waiting for them to realize our third condition of cooperating with Turkey in making life conditions easier for Palestinians," he continued. "We are not talking about the amount of money as our first two conditions have not been met…Israel has to accept its wrongful act. Otherwise we will not say 'yes' to them."
Making "life conditions easier for Palestinians" likely refers in part to lifting Israel's naval blockade on the Gaza port, in place to prevent unfettered supplies of arms shipments to Hamas, the Islamist faction ruling the Gaza Strip.
At the end of President Obama's visit last March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize -- many believe under pressure from Obama -- for any "operational errors" that may have led to the activists' deaths.
Diminishing relations between Israel and Turkey began with Erdogan's election in 2003, when he started to steer the largely secular population toward Islam. The confrontation aboard the flagship exacerbated the former allies' strained ties diplomatically, militarily, and economically.
Many analysts believe Turkey was not so much interested in sending humanitarian aid to Gaza in 2010 as it was to creating an international incident to reap condemnation on the Jewish state.
CBN News reported extensively on what took place when the captain of the six-vessel flotilla refused to sail to Ashdod to unload its "humanitarian aid" for land transport to Gaza.
Three months after the incident, Netanyahu said the IDF video of the attack showed "fair-minded and honest people around the world…that the Marmara was no love boat…and the activists were not exactly innocent peace activists."
"It was only then that many people understood that our soldiers faced a very real danger to their lives from brutal attacks with clubs, metal rods -- and as you have no doubt learned -- from live weapons," he said.
"IDF soldiers acted in self-defense," Netanyahu explained. "We made tremendous efforts to prevent injuries, but the IDF soldiers have the right to defend themselves."
He added that once all the facts came to light, "the slanders related to the flotilla that have been directed at the IDF will dissipate."
More than three years later, none of Israel’s goodwill gestures have sufficed. The Turkish government has yet to take any responsibility for its role in the confrontation.