ISTANBUL, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Turkey confirmed Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologized to Turkey for the attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, in which eight Turks and an American of Turkish origin were killed in May 2010.
The long-awaited apology came during a phone conversation between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Netanyahu on Friday, the semi-official Anatolia news agency quoted sources from the Turkish Prime Ministry as saying.
In May 2010, a flotilla with international peace activists aboard sailed to the territorial waters near the Gaza Strip in order to break the Israeli-imposed blockade over the enclave. As Israel navy soldiers raided the vessel, an armed conflict broke out, resulting in the deaths of nine.
Israel had refused to publicly apologize for the deaths. After the incident, the diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey were severed and the once fruitful collaboration on security, financial and touristic issues came to a halt.
But Israeli officials have sent out reconciliation messages to Turkey earlier this year, saying that Israel is ready to embark on a more "positive, dynamic" relationship with Turkey after the three-year strain in their ties.
Also on Friday, Israel's prime minister's office said in a statement that the two prime ministers have agreed to restore normalization between Israel and Turkey, including the dispatch of ambassadors, during their phone talk.
U.S. President Barack Obama also said Friday that Washington attached great importance to the restoration of positive relations between Turkey and Israel, and that he welcomed the phone conversation between Erdogan and Netanyahu.