Israel apologises to Turks for flotilla deaths
Prime minister Netanyahu calls Erdogan from Tel Aviv during meeting with Obama
Israeli president Shimon Peres, US president Barack Obama, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk together prior to Mr Obama departing from Ben Gurion International Airport today, concluding his three day visit to Israel and the West Bank. Photograph: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images
Israel i Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkish leader Recep Erdogan for the deaths of nine Turks on an aid flotilla to Gaza in 2010, a key step toward smoothing relations between their nations, US and Israeli officials said.
Mr Netanyahu called Turkey's prime minister today from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv as he met with US President Barack Obama, according to Obama administration officials, who asked for anonymity because the call wasn't made public.
Mr Netanyahu told Mr Erdogan that he regretted the incident had damaged relations and apologised for operational mistakes that led to the deaths, the officials told reporters traveling with Mr Obama as he left Israel for a stop in Jordan.
Mr Erdogan accepted the apology and said wanted better relations between Israel and Turkey, according to the officials.
Mr Obama discussed with Mr Netanyahu this week the importance of repairing relations with Turkey, the officials said.
The Turkish-Israeli alliance, based on security ties stretching back decades, has been under strain in recent years, especially since the flotilla incident.