JERUSALEM (JTA) – The United Nations deferred the release of its findings on Israel’s deadly seizure of a Gaza-bound Turkish ship to give Jerusalem and Ankara more time to mend fences.
An inquiry set up by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had been due to publish a report on the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident Wednesday, but Israeli officials said the release was moved to Aug. 20.
The report has been postponed repeatedly while Israel and Turkey, both of which have delegates on the U.N. panel under former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, pursue bilateral reconciliation talks.
Turkey was infuriated by the deaths of nine of its citizens — one of them a dual U.S. national — in clashes with Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara as it tried to run the Gaza Strip blockade along with five other vessels carrying pro-Palestinian activists.
Israel has defended its actions and says it will be largely vindicated by the Palmer report, which already has been distributed among the sides. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also weighing Ankara’s demand for an apology in hope of patching ties with what was once the Jewish state’s most important Muslim ally.
The prospect of Israel making amends has set off fissures in Jerusalem, especially given Turkey’s additional demand that the Gaza blockade end. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been the most vocal dissenter.
Lieberman was publicly rebuked Monday by Civil Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, who said Israel’s unfriendly neighborhood warranted making “a supreme effort to put us on the same side rather than the opposing side” of Turkey.
“We all have our national pride, and we fight when we have to,” Vilnai told a missile-defense conference outside Tel Aviv. “At the same time, we have to understand the reality we live in. I’m not sure the foreign minister, of all people, understands this.”