'Erdogan to visit Gaza unless J'lem apologizes for raid'

Turkish PM threatens to deepen rift with Israel over flotilla affair unless J'lem meets list of demands for reconciliation, according to 'Hurriyet.'

By JPOST.COM STAFF
July 20, 2011 15:35
2 minute read.
Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister

Tayyip Erdogan 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

 
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he will travel to Gaza if Israel does not apologize to Turkey for last year's Gaza flotilla raid, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported Wednesday.

Erdogan made the statement while on his way to northern Cyprus where he addressed his intent to strike a peace deal between the Greek and Turkish sides of the island nation, according to the report.

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Erdogan was originally planning to visit Gaza on July 21 via Egypt's Rafah crossing. However, given the upcoming release of the UN’s Palmer Commission report on August 1, he decided to delay his trip hoping to put pressure on Israel to issue an apology before then.

The Palmer Comission was established to investigate the circumstances of the IDF raid on Gaza flotilla ship Mavi Marmara in May 2010.

The 90-page report is widely expected to say that Israel was within its legal rights in clamping a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, but that it used excessive force against the Mavi Marmara. Nine Turks were killed when IDF commandos boarded the ship in an effort to implement the blockade, and were attacked by passengers.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon were holding secret talks trying to broker a reconciliation deal for several weeks until they stalled over the weekend.

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Turkey made it clear that it does not intend to compromise on an apology. It has both increased its demands for reconciliation and made declarations of how it would further sour ties if Israel did not meet its demands, such as a state visit to Gaza. Increased demands include reparations paid to the families of those killed during the raid, to which Israel has agreed in principle, and an end to the Gaza blockade, which has been authorized as legal by the United Nations.

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