Turkey, Israel talks still in deadlock as the two sides stick their positions over last year’s deadly Mavi Maramara incident. But regional unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is pushing both Ankara and Tel Aviv to stay at negotiation table.
Israel commandos attack on the Mavi Marmara ship on May 31, 2010 which resulted in the death of eight Turks and one Turkish-American.
Although the two parties’ insistence on sticking to their positions in the negotiations aimed at hammering out a formula to repair troubled relations led to a deadlock, regional unrest in the Middle East is pushing both Turkey and Israel to move ahead.
Turkish and Israeli officials on Thursday continued another round of negotiations in New York in a bid to restore their bilateral relationship as the draft version of a controversial U.N. report included elements that satisfied neither of the parties.
The Hürriyet Daily News has learned that the Turkish delegation, made up of Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, Ambassador Mithat Rende and the Turkish member of the U.N. panel, Özdem Sanberk, is still in New York, while Israel’s deputy prime minister, Moshe Ya’alon, went back home. But sources said talks have not ceased as Israel was being represented by its diplomats and legal advisors.
It was not yet clear when the report of the U.N. panel investigating last year’s deadly raid by the Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid vessel, the Mavi Marmara, would be released as the Hürriyet Daily News went to print yesterday. Turkish and Israeli diplomats said all was within the realm of possibility.
“The report may not come out,” Sanberk told the Daily News on Thursday. “It depends on the negotiations today,” he said before the resumption of the New York talks. Well-informed sources said the report was ready. The draft version embodies elements that dissatisfy the two parties. It has been learned that the report criticizes the Israeli military for using excessive force against the activists onboard the Mavi Marmara, saying that Israeli explanations for resorting to physical force were not sufficient, citing the autopsy reports of the nine victims submitted to the U.N. panel by the Turkish side. That has been found “unacceptable” by the Israeli side, it has been learned.
İHH and Turkish gov’t
The report also says Israel’s blockade on Gaza is legal under international law, providing Israel with the right to intervene on all ships trying to break the blockade. The Turkish side objects to this judgment. The report is said to be quoting the Israeli argument that the Turkish government did not do enough to stop the ship, citing links between the nongovernmental Turkish aid group that organized the flotilla, the İHH, and the Turkish government.
The U.N. report can only be released after a consensus is reached among its four members. As the two sides found unacceptable elements inside, it was not clear if the document could be released on schedule. Ankara, however, is objecting to any document that falls short of the U.N. Human Rights Council report that called Israel’s action against the Gaza flotilla “unlawful.”
Turkey’s demand for a formal apology from Israel’s deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara remains a sticking point in talks. Israel insists on not using the word “apology,” which would imply that Tel Aviv takes responsibility, which may ultimately lead to moral and legal consequences. The Israeli press reported that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan instructed the Turkish negotiating team not to backtrack on the apology condition.
“Our position is to have our demands met on an apology and compensation for the nine citizens of ours that died,” said Sanberk. Momentum is behind Turkey and Israel’s efforts heal last year’s rift as the unrest sweeping the Mideast and North Africa is a source of concern for both countries, according to sources. Turkey particularly is warily watching the developments in Syria, while Israel is cautiously watching post-revolution developments in Egypt.