Congress members urge Turkey to prevent flotilla


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bipartisan group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged Turkey to do what it could to prevent another flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip.

The letter sent May 11 to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which was signed by 36 House members, noted reports that the same Turkey-based organization that organized the May 2010 flotilla was planning another.

"We ask you to help discourage these efforts and work with the Israeli government in a productive way as it continues to allow legitimate aid, but not weapons, to enter Gaza," said the letter.

The letter, which was spearheaded by Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cole (R-Ok.), said Israel had made efforts recently to increase the flow of aid into Gaza while ensuring that weapons did not reach its Hamas rulers.

"We are seeking your active participation in finding a resolution that prevents violence," it said.

Israeli commandos raided the flotilla on May 31 of last year — killing nine Turks, including one Turkish  American — when it tried to evade Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The flotilla and raid precipitated a crisis in Israel-Turkey ties.

Half the signatories, including Cole, are members of the Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans.

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