Turkey makes waves as UN flotilla report allegedly backs Israel

Israel is being offered a chance to improve its parlous relationship with Turkey – but at the cost of softening criticism of Ankara in the UN report on the Gaza flotilla clash in May 2010 that resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish citizens on board the Mavi Marmara.

A story in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Sunday follows up on an earlier Haaretz article from May that Turkey was furious with the UN draft report and wanted radical changes made.

Sunday’s story offers more detail on the report by the UN committee chaired by former New Zealand PM Geoffrey Palmer – a legal expert on international maritime law – which allegedly includes:

  • Criticism of the Turkish Government for its close relationship with the Islamist IHH group that organised the flotilla and initiated the violence on the Mavi Marmara.
  • Backing for Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip as legal and therefore providing legal justification for the Israeli navy’s interception of the Gaza flotilla in May 2010.
  • A finding that the Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara were acting in self-defence after coming under attack, but had used disproportionate force.
  • A call for Israel to pay compensation to the families of the dead and injured Turkish citizens.

Overall, the findings of the UN report are consistent with those of Israel’s own Turkel Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza flotilla clash that reported in January 2011.

The unnamed Israeli official in the Haaretz story claims that the Turkish Government fears the critical report “could cause a political storm in Turkey”.

In return for the critical elements being toned down Turkey will return its ambassador to Israel and relations would be improved.

Turkey is also reportedly seeking an Israeli apology for killing Turkish citizens. Israel has repeatedly rejected an apology, while expressing its “regret” over the deaths.

The report is scheduled for release in two weeks.