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Israeli Defense Minister Says Turkey Tensions Must Ease

Israeli soldiers raid a ship as the navy intercepts a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea on 31 May 2010 in a pre-dawn assault which killed several pro-Palestinian activists and sparked global outrage.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that Israel stands to gain by reducing tensions with Turkey.

His comments came in response to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's comments Sunday rejecting a demand from Turkey that Israel apologize for its attack on a Turkish ship last May that killed nine people.

Lieberman told a gathering in Jerusalem on Sunday that Turkey needs to apologize to Israel for "supporting terror."

The ship, the Mavi Marmara, was sailing to the Gaza Strip with aid supplies when it was attacked by Israeli commandos.

Israel said Turkey was breaking a Gaza blockade and that its troops opened fire in self-defense. Eight Turks and a Turkish-American were killed.

Turkish and Israeli diplomats held "fence-mending talks" in Geneva earlier this month, but little progress was made.

Barak said Monday that his Labor Party is committed to defusing tensions with Turkey.

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