Turkish FM warns Israel to apologize or face sanctions

Davutoglu tells 'Zaman' that deadline for apology for death of 9 Turks during 'Marmara' raid "is the day the UN report gets released, or we resort to Plan B”; says Turkey will not allow more delays in report.

By
September 1, 2011 18:51
2 minute read.
The 'Mavi Marmara'

The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)

 
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With the oft-delayed UN Palmer Commission report on the Mavi Marmara incident due to be handed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Friday, Turkey's foreign minister warned that if Israel did not apologize for the incident by the time the report is released, Turkey will "put Plan B into play," Turkish Foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying Thursday.

Plan B refers to a threat made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month saying that if Israel did not apologize, Turkey would further downgrade ties with Israel and aggressively oppose it in international forums. The Turks have also threatened to cut economic ties as part of a "Plan B."

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Davutoglu, referring to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's recent proposal – shot down by the Turks – to postpone the release of the commission report for another six months, said, "We cannot accept a six month extension.  The release date of the UN report is the last date for us. We will put Plan B into play if [there is] no apology."

Davutoglu's remarks were made in an interview with the Turkish newspapers Today's Zaman and Hurriyet.

Israel Radio quoted senior diplomatic sources as saying Thursday that Israel had decided that it would not apologize. A message to that effect was passed on to the Americans some two weeks ago.

The Prime Minister's Office, however, had no comment on the matter.

Today's Zaman reported that Davutoglu might return to Ankara from Paris Thursday evening to react to the release of the report. Although the report is expected to be delivered to Ban on Friday, it is not clear whether he will release it for publication on Friday, or wait until after the long US Labor Day weekend.

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According to the report, Davutoglu said that "Turkey will impose sanctions which both Israel and other international parties are aware of."

Foreign Ministry officials who deal with the issue have been busy this week drawing up Israel's response, as well as coming up with talking points for Israel's diplomats abroad.

The report was written months ago and shown to both Israel and Turkey.

According to Israeli officials, the 102-page report concludes that  Israel's naval blockade of Gaza was legal, as was the interception of vessels trying to break the blockade; the IHH activists behind the flotilla were looking for a violent provocation; there was a relationship between the Turkish government and the IHH; and  the IDF soldiers defended themselves after coming up against premeditated violence by those on the ship.

The report also concludes, however, that the soldiers used excessive force.

The report calls on Israel to express regret, which it already has done, for the loss of the nine lives on the ship, but doesn't call for an apology. It also calls for Israel to pay compensation to the families, which Jerusalem already said it was willing to do if the Turkish government set up a fund.

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