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Israel, Turkey seek compromise ahead of flotilla report

Israeli and Turkish diplomats are working on a joint statement regarding last year’s Mavi Marmara incident that would be acceptable to both sides and would come instead of the release of a report by a UN commission established to investigate the matter. The UN committee, headed by the former-prime minister of New Zealand Geoffrey Palmer, is scheduled to issue its findings on Thursday.

According to an Israeli government official talking to the Jerusalem Post, one option being considered is that the two sides would issue a joint statement that would not focus on the incident last May, when Israeli commandos killed nine passengers as they encountered violent resistance whilst attempting to stop the vessel breaching Israel’s maritime blockade, but rather how to get past the incident and move bilateral relations forwar

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon plans to meet senior Turkish officials in New York today. A government source in Jerusalem quoted in Haaretz said that the United States have been exerting heavy pressure on both sides to work out their differences by the time the report comes at the end of the week. According to the same source, if a compromise is not reached, the findings in the report will likely freeze relations between the two countries for a significant length of time. If, however, a compromise is reached the UN report will be reworded and toned down.

The UN committee reviewing the events of 31 May 2010 have sent a draft of its report to both Israel and Turkey. Media reports indicate this morning that the committee has concluded that the blockade of Gaza was legal, but that the naval commandos who seized the Mavi Marmara used undue force. According to reports, Turkey is concerned by criticism in the report, which is condemnatory of the role it played in organising the event and its links it the IHH – the planners of the flotilla and organisation whose activists were responsible for the violence on-board the Mavi Marmara.

The main obstacle between mending bilateral relations is Ankara’s insistence in an apology and compensation for the victims, while Israel refuses to accept full responsibility, but has indicated it is willing to express regret if an agreement is reached which puts an end to the whole affair.

Further reading:

BICOM Analysis: Israel-Turkey relations after AKP’s victory