Turkey issues apology ultimatum to Israel
JERUSALEM (JTA) — Turkey’s foreign minister gave Israel one day to apologize for its 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla ship or the country would "resort to Plan B."
Ahmet Davutoglu said he would not agree to any more delays in the release of the United Nations-authored Palmer Report investigating Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara ship in May 2010, which led to the deaths of nine Turkish citizens, including a dual Turkish-American citizen.
The report, which originally was scheduled to be released in February, is now set to be released Friday after several agreed-upon delays in an attempt to solve the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Turkey.
“It is not remotely possible for us to agree to a six-month delay,” Davutoglu said Thursday during a visit to Sarajevo, Today’s Zaman reported. “For us the [apology] deadline is the day the U.N. report gets released, or we resort to Plan B.” He did not say what Plan B would be, according to the newspaper.
“We waited patiently for Israel to come to a decision, but it looks like the country is having a hard time arriving at one," the foreign minister said, adding that “Turkey will be imposing sanctions that are well known by Israel and some other international parties.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month in a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton turned down an Obama administration request to apologize to Turkey. Israel has offered its "regret."
The 105-page report, according to The New York Times, which obtained a copy, largely agrees with the Israeli narrative of events: Israeli commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara faced "organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers" and used force in their own defense.
However, the force used, according to the report, was "excessive and unreasonable," with unacceptable loss of life.
The report, in a finding sure to infuriate the Turkish government, also found that the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza was in keeping with international law.
“Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza,” the report says in its opening paragraphs. “The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”
Relations between Israel and Turkey had begun to deteriorate even before the flotilla incident, beginning with the monthlong Gaza war that began in late December 2008.