U.S. President Barack Obama is pictured with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
President Barack Obama with Israel\'s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters)

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologised to Turkey over the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, in which nine Turkish peace activists were killed by Israeli marines.

In a telephone conversation with Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, brokered by visiting US president Barack Obama, Netanyahu made a formal apology that has drawn a line under the diplomatic fracture that resulted from the incident.

"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," Obama said, minutes before flying out of Tel Aviv to Jordan aboard Air Force One.

"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," he added.

Netanyahu apologised to the Turkish people for "operational mistakes" that could have led to a loss of life in the flotilla. The ship was carrying aid to Gaza Strip when it was intercepted and boarded by Israeli forces. According to some reports, Netanyahu agreed to compensation for bereaved families. The two leaders talked for about 30 minutes and at some point Obama got on the phone.

According to reports, Erdogan accepted Israel's apology and agreed with Netanyahu on the need to normalise diplomatic relations between the region's biggest US.

Turkey has long demanded a formal apology from Israel for the raid and for the Gaza blockade to be lifted.

Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, carrying pro-Palestinian activists to take part of a humanitarian convoy
Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, carrying pro-Palestinian activists to take part of a humanitarian convoy (Reuters)