'US to offer Turkey peace process role to stop flotilla'

Ankara would host peace summit in exchange for restoring relations with Jerusalem, preventing upcoming flotilla, 'Today's Zaman' reports.

The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)
The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)
The Obama Administration may soon present the Turkish government with a proposition to stop the upcoming flotilla to Gaza and restore relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman reported on Friday.
The offer, first reported by Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, would involve Ankara hosting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, according to the report. The White House is expected to soon officially make the offer to Turkey.
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Talks, which have been stalled since late last year, after Palestinians demanded Israel extend a freeze of West Bank settlement building, would be resumed in Turkey following the model of the Madrid conference or the secret Oslo talks that followed it in the early 1990s, Zaman reported.
Israel has been making great diplomatic efforts in recent weeks to pressure Turkey to stop a repeat of the Gaza flotilla that took place just over one year ago. Nine Turkish nationals were killed by Israeli commandos who boarded one of the six ships that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Strip.
Another flotilla is expected to head for the Gaza Strip later this month.
Ankara, while reportedly warning its citizens of the dangers in making the sea voyage to Gaza, has said it cannot prevent private citizens from making the journey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu last month issued a warning to Israel, saying it should “not repeat the human tragedy it caused last year,” adding that Ankara would undertake “the necessary response to any repeated act of provocation by Israel on the high seas,” AFP reported.
On Thursday, Davutoglu issued a harsh response to international calls to stop flotilla participants from attempting to break the Israeli blockade.
“Sometimes the international community has no courage to warn Israel,” the Turkish foreign minister said, adding that instead of warning Turkey, Israel should be receiving warnings about the flotilla, Today’s Zaman reported.
Davutoglu noted that like last year’s flotilla, whose participants hailed from a number of countries other than Turkey, the upcoming blockade-busting flotilla will include many international participants.
In democratic societies, he added, governments cannot intervene to stop the work of civil-society organizations, according to the report.
Amplifying his rhetoric – a recent trend understood in Israel to be intended for domestic consumption ahead of upcoming elections – Davutoglu alleged that even the framing of eroded relations between Israel and Turkey as “bilateral tension” is merely an attempt “to cover up a crime against humanity,” Today’s Zaman reported.
Officials in Jerusalem in recent weeks have been turning a deaf ear to Davutoglu’s anti-Israel rants because Israel does not want to play a role in the Turkish elections on June 12, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Much of Israel’s recent diplomatic activity is aimed at creating a more understanding diplomatic environment, if the navy has to once again stop the flotilla.