US regrets ongoing conflict between Turkey and Israel

State Department: We hope both sides can settle dispute; Democratic congressman calls Ankara government hypocritical.

September 3, 2011 04:44
2 minute read.
White House

White House 311. (photo credit: courtesy)


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The US State Department said on Friday that it regretted the ongoing diplomatic row between Turkey and Israel over the IDF interception of a Turkish Gaza-bound flotilla in which nine activists - eight Turkish and one American of Turkish descent - were killed.

"We regret that prior to the publication of the [Palmer] report they were unable to reach agreement on steps that might have helped overcome their differences," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, adding that the US continues to hope that the governments in Ankara and Jerusalem will work for a complete resolution and fix their "longstanding relationship."

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Earlier Friday, US Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) was more critical of Turkey, calling the government in Ankara hypocritical for its decision to expel Israel's ambassador to Ankara while Syria's envoy to Turkey remains in place.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday said that Israel's diplomatic presence in Turkey was being cut to second secretary level, effectively expelling Israeli diplomats after details emerged of the Palmer Report which dealt with the IDF raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship.

"Turkey should be ashamed of itself," Engel, a senior member of the US House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee said in a statement.  "In an almost unbelievable act of hypocrisy, the Syrian ambassador sits comfortably in Ankara, while the Assad regime kills more than 2000 of its own people, but Turkey has expelled the Israeli Ambassador for Israel’s proper enforcement of a legally-established blockade.  Rather than bashing the only real democracy in the Middle East, Turkey should focus on its own problems, such as ending its occupation of Cyprus once and for all," he stated.

Engel also commented on the UN report on the raid of the Mavi Marmara: “The Palmer Commission report accurately confirmed that Israel acted within its rights in establishing a blockade of Gaza, and enforcing it.  I think the report went too far, however, when it said Israel used ‘excessive’ force.  Only after the Israelis faced serious, life-threatening violence did they act legally in self defense.  I can see nothing wrong with that.”

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